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ASMSpV'S “Useless” Rbbot 



SCIENCE riCTION 



35f Januory POC 



Book-Length Novel 

And Then The 
Town Took Off 

by 

RICHARD WILSON 

author of 

The Girls from Planet 5 





MY KINGDOM FOR 
A NEWSSTAND! 



No joke, chums — this is a real melancholy bit. Turning 
Pappy's spaceyacht into spacescrap is bad enough. 
Missing my date with that cute Venusian ooglechick is 

worse. But the downest part of all is, I may not get back 
home in time to buy the new INFINITY and 
SCIENCE FICTION ADVENTURES! 

I don’t have to tell you how super INFINITY and SFA are. 

Or that I’ll be a nowhere square without air if I miss an 

issue of either. Especially with the surprises they’ve got 
coming up! 

But I have nobody to blame but my own self — I 

should have subscribed when I had the chance. 



Readers, don’t let this happen to you. 
Remember, monsters of distinction have 
subscriptions. See full details inside. 



00 1 nfinity 



SCIENCE FICTION 



January, 1958 
Vol. 3, No. 2 
THE MAGAZINE OF TOMORROWNESS 
Two-Parf Novel: 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF . . Richard Wilson 4 

Novelets: 

BEYOND OUR CONTROL Randall Garrett 68 

OUTSIDE SATURN Robert Ernest Gilbert 104 

Stories: 

LENNY Isaac Asimov 54 

THE STATISTOMAT PITCH Chan Davis 92 



Departments: 

BY THE EDITOR 53 

INFINITY'S CHOICE Damon Knight 86 

FANFARE Robert Silverberg 101 

FEEDBACK The Readers 125 

COVER, illustrating And Then the Town Took Off, by Ed Emsh. 
ILLUSTRATIONS by Bowman, Emsh, Kluga and Schoenherr. 



Publisher-IRWIN STEIN Editor-LARRY T. SHAW 

Production Monager-HELEN SKALET Associate Editor-MONTY HOWARD 
Art Director-RICHARD KLUGA Assistant Editor-LEE HOFFMAN 



INFINITY SCIENCT: FICTION, published monthly except for Febrimry, Aiifrust. 
and December, try Royal I’ublications, Inc., IL West ■12nd Street, New York Sti. N. Y. 
Single copy SSi*: subscription (12 issues) for the F. S., its territories and possesfflons, 
and Canada, $3.50; elsewhere. ,$4.50. Copyright 1937 l)y Royal Futdications, Inc. Sec- 
ond-class mail privileges authorized at New York, N. Y". The publislier assumes no 
responsibility for unsolicited material. All stories printed in tliis magazine are fiction ; 
any similarity Iretween the characters and actual persons is purely coincidental. 

Printed in U. S. A. 




And Then 

the Town 
Took Off 

Up, up and awa-ay went 

Superior. Ohio— on the X Book-length Novel 

zaniest journey ever! by RICHARD WILSON 



Illustrated by ED EMSH 





First of Two Ports 

CHAPTER I 

T he town of Superior, Ohio, 
disappeared on the night of 
October 31. 

A truck driver named Pierce 
Knaubloch was the first to report 
it. He had been highballing west 
along Route 202, making up for 
the time he’d spent over a second 
cup of coffee in a diner, when he 
screeched to a stop. If he’d gone 
another twenty-live feet, he’d 
have gone into the pit where 
Superior had been. 

Knaubloch couldn’t see the 
extent of the pit because it was 



5 



too dark, but it looked big. 
Bigger than if a nitro truck had 
blown up, which was his first 
thought. He backed up two hun- 
dred feet, set out flares, then sped 
off to a telephone. 

The State Police converged on 
the former site of Superior from 
several directions. Communicat- 
ing by radiophone across the vast 
pit, they confirmed that the town 
undoubtedly was missing. 

They put in a call to the Na- 
tional Guard. The Guard sur- 
rounded the area with troops — 
more than a thousand were need- 
ed — to keep people from falling 
into the pit. 

The Pennsylvania Railroad 
complained that one of its pas- 
senger trains was missing. The 
train’s schedule called for it to 
pass through but not stop at 
Superior at 11:58. That seemed 
to fix the time of the disappear- 
ance at midnight. The truck 
driver had made his discovery 
shortly after midnight. 

Someone pointed out that 
October 31 was Hallowe’en and 
that midnight was the witching 
hour. 

Somebody else said nonsense, 
they’d better check for radiation. 
A civil defense official brought 
up a geiger counter, but no mat- 
ter how he shook it and rapped 
on it, it refused to click. 

A National Guard officer vol- 
unteered to take a jeep down into 
the pit, having found a spot that 



seemed navigable. He was gone 
a long time but when he came 
out the other side he reported 
that the pit was concave, relative- 
ly smooth and did not smell of 
high explosives. He’d found no 
people, no houses — no sign of 
anything except the pit itself. 

The Governor of Ohio asked 
Washington whether any uniden- 
tified planes had been over the 
state. Washington said no. The 
Pentagon and the Atomic Energy 
Commission denied that they had 
been conducting secret experi- 
ments. 

Nor had there been any de- 
fense plants in Superior that 
might have blown up. The 
town’s biggest factory made 
kitchen sinks and the next big- 
gest made bubble gum. 

A United Airlines pilot 
found Superior early on the 
morning of November 1. The 
pilot. Captain Eric Studley, who 
had never seen a flying saucer 
and hoped never to see one, was 
afraid now that he had. The ob- 
ject loomed out of a cloudbank 
at twelve thousand feet and 
Studley changed course to avoid 
it. He noted with only minimum 
satisfaction that his co-pilot also 
saw the thing and wondered why 
it wasn’t moving at the terrific 
speed flying saucers were alleged- 
ly capable of. 

Then he saw the church steeple 
on it. 



6 



IHFINITY 



A few minutes later he had 
relayed a message from Superior, 
formerly of Ohio, addressed to 
whom it might concern: 

It said that Superior had 
seceded from Earth. 

One other radio message 
came from Superior, now air- 
borne, on that first day. A ham 
radio operator reported an un- 
identified voice as saying plain- 
tively: 

"Cold up here!” 

CHAPTER II 

D on Cort had been dozing in 
what passed for the club car 
on the Buckeye Cannonball when 
the train braked to a stop. He 
looked out the window, hoping 
this was Columbus, where he 
planned to catch a plane east. But 
it wasn’t Columbus. All he could 
see were some lanterns jogging 
as trainmen hurried along the 
tracks. 

The conductor looked into the 
car. The redhead across the aisle 
in whom E>on had taken a pass- 
ing interest earlier in the evening 
asked, "Why did we stop?” 
"Somebody flagged us down,” 
the conductor said. "We don’t 
make a station stop at Superior 
on this run.” 

The girl’s hair was a subtle 
but false red. When Don had 
entered the club car he’d seen 
her hatless head from above and 



noticed that the hair along the 
part was dark. Her eyes had been 
on a book and Don had the op- 
portunity for a brief study of 
her face. The cheeks were full 
and untouched by makeup. There 
were lines at .the corners of her 
mouth which indicated a ten- 
dency to arrange her expression 
into one of disapproval. Tlie lips 
were full, like the cheeks, but it 
was obvious that the scarlet lip- 
stick had contrived a mouth a 
trifle bigger than tlie one nature 
had given her. 

Her glance upward then inter- 
rupted his examination, which 
had been about to go on to her 
figure. Later, though, he was able 
to observe that it was more than 
adequate. 

If the girl had given Don Cort 
more than the glance, or if it 
had been a trained, all-encom- 
passing glance, she would have 
seen a man in his mid-twenties — 
about her age — lean, tall and 
straight-shouldered, with ex- 
blond hair now verging on dark 
brown, a face neither handsome 
nor ugly and a habit of drawing 
the inside of his left cheek be- 
tween his teeth and nibbling at 
it thoughtfully. 

But it was likely that all she 
noticed then was the brief case 
he carried, attached by a chain to 
a handcuff on his left wrist. 

"Will we be here long?” Don 
asked the conductor. He didn’t 
want to miss his plane at Colum- 



:AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



7 



bus. The sooner he got to Wash- 
ington the sooner he’d get rid of 
the brief case. The handcuff it 
was attached to was one reason 
why his interest in the redhead 
had been only passing. 

"Can’t say,” the conductor 
told him. He let the door close 
again and went down to the 
tracks. 

Don hesitated, shrugged at the 
redhead, said "Excuse me’’ and 
followed the conductor. About a 
dozen people were milling 
around the train as it sat in the 
dark, hissing steam. Don made 
his way up to the locomotive and 
found a bigger knot of people 
gathered in front of the cow- 
catcher. 

Some sort of barricade had 
been put up across the tracks 
and it was covered with every 
imaginable kind of warning 
device. There were red lanterns, 
battery and electric; flashlights; 
road flares; and even an old red 
shirt. 

Don saw two men who must 
have been the engineer and fire- 
man talking to a bearded gentle- 
man wearing a civil defense 
helmet, a topcoat and riding 
boots. 

"You’d go over the edge, I 
tell you,” the old gentleman was 
saying. 

"If you don’t get this junk off 
the line,” the engineer said, "I’ll 
plow right through it. Off the 
edge! You crazy or something?” 



"Look for yourself,” the old 
man in the white helmet said. 
"Go ahead. Look.” 

The engineer was exasperated. 
He turned to the fireman. "You 
look. Humor the old man. Then 
let’s go.” 

The bearded man — he called 
himself Professor Caret — went 
off with the fireman. Don fol- 
lowed them. They had tramped 
a quarter of a mile along the 
gravel when the fireman stopped. 
"Okay,” he said, "where’s the' 
edge? I don’t see nothing.” The 
tracks seemed to stretch forever 
into the darkness. 

"It’s another half mile or so,” 
the professor saidi 

"Well, let’s hurry up. We 
haven’t got all night.” 

The old man chuckled. "I’m 
afraid you have.” 

They came to it at last, stop- 
ping well back from it. Professor 
Caret swelled with pride, it 
seemed, as he made a theatrical 
gesture. 

"Behold,” he said. "Something 
even Columbus couldn’t find. 
The edge of the world.” 

True, everything seemed to 
stop and they could see stars 
shining low on the horizon where 
stars could not properly be ex- 
pected to be seen. 

Don Cort and the fireman 
walked cautiously toward the 
edge while the Professor ambled 
aliead with the familiarity of one 
who had been there before. 



8 



INFINITY 



There was a wind and they did 
not venture too close. Neverthe- 
less Don could see that it ap- 
parently was a neat, sharp edge, 
not one of your old ragged, ran- 
dom edges such as might have 
been caused by an explosion. This 
one had the feeling of design 
behind it. 

Standing on tiptoe and repress- 
ing a touch of giddiness, Don 
looked over the edge. He didn’t 
have to stand on tiptoe any more 
than he had to sit on the e^ge 
of his seat during the exciting 
part of a movie, but the situation 
seemed to call for it. Over the 
edge could be seen a big section 
of Ohio. At least he supposed 
it was Ohio. 

Don looked at the fireman, 
who had an unbelieving expres- 
sion on his face, then at the 
bearded old man, who was smil- 
ing and nodding. 

“You see what I mean,” he 
said. "You would have gone 
right over. I believe you would 
have had a two-mile fall.” 

"Of course you could have 
stayed aboard the train,” the man 
driving the old Pontiac said, “but 
I really think you’ll be more 
comfortable at Cavalier.” 

Don Cort, sitting in the back 
seat of the car with the redhead 
from the club car, asked, “Cava- 
lier?’’ 

“The college. The institute, 
really; it’s not accredited. What 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



did you say your name was, 
miss?’’ 

“Jen Jervis,” she said. "Ge- 
neva Jervis, formally.” 

"Miss Jervis. I’m Civek. You 
know Mr. Cort, I suppose.” 

The girl smiled sideways. "We 
have a nodding acquaintance.” 
Don nodded and grinned. 

"There’s plenty of room in the 
dormitories,” Civek said. "People 
don’t exactly pound on the gates 
and scream to be admitted to 
Cavalier.” 

"Are you connected with the 
college?” Don asked. 

"Me? No. I’m the mayor of 
Superior. The old town’s really 
come up in the world, hasn’t it?” 
"Overnight,” Geneva Jervis 
said. “If what Mr. Cort and the 
fireman say is true. I haven’t seen 
the edge myself.” 

"You’ll have a better chance 
to look at it in the morning,” the 
mayor said, “if we don’t settle 
back in the meantime.” 

"Was there any sort of explo- 
sion?” Don asked. 

"No. There wasn’t any sensa- 
tion at all, as far as I noticed. 
I was watching the late show — 
or trying to. My house is down 
in a hollow and reception isn’t 
very good, especially with old 
English movies. Well, all of a 
sudden the picture sharpened up 
and I could see just as plain. 
Then the phone rang and it was 
Professor Garet.” 

“The old fellow w'ith the 

9 



whiskers and the riding boots?” 
Jen Jervis asked. 

"Yes. Osbert Caret, Professor 
of Magnology at the Cavalier 
Institute of Applied Sciences.” 
"Professor of what?” 
"Magnology. As I say, the 
school isn’t accredited. Well, 
Professor Caret telephoned and 
said 'Hector’ — that’s my name, 
Hector Civek — 'everything’s up 
in the air.’ Having his little joke. 
I said 'What?’ and then he told 
me.” 

"Told you what?” Jen Jervis 
asked. "I mean, does he have 
any theory about it?” 

"He has a theory about every- 
thing. I think what he was trying 
to convey was that this — this 
levitation — confirmed his Mag- 
nology principle.” 

"What’s that?” Don asked. 

"I haven’t the faintest idea. 
I’m a politician, not a scientist. 
Professor Caret went on about it 
for a while, on the telephone, 
about magnetism and gravity, 
but I think he was only calling 
as a courtesy, so the mayor 
wouldn’t look foolish the next 
morning, not knowing his town 
had flown the coop.” 

"What’s the population of 
Superior?” 

"Three thousand, including 
the students at the Institute. 
Three thousand and forty, count- 
ing you people from the train. 
I guess you’ll be with us for a 
while.” 



''What do you mean by that?” 
Jen Jervis asked. 

"Well, I don’t see how you can 
get down. Do you?” 

"Does Superior have an air- 
port?” Don asked. "I’ve got to 
get back to — to Earth.” It sound- 
ed odd to put it that way. 

"Nope,” Civek said. "No air- 
port. No place for a plane to 
land, either.” 

"Maybe not a plane,” Don 
said, "but a helicopter could land 
just about anywhere.” 

"No helicopters here, either.” 

"Maybe not. But I’ll bet 
they’re swarming all over you 
by morning.” 

"Hm,” said Hector Civek. 
Don couldn’t quite catch his ex- 
pression in the rear view mirror. 

"I suppose they could, at that. 
Well, here’s Cavalier. You go 
right in that door, where the 
others are going. There’s Profes- 
sor Caret. I’ve got to see him — 
excuse me.” 

The mayor was off across the ' 
campus. Don looked at Ceneva 
Jervis, who was frowning. "Are 
you thinking,” he asked, "that 
Mayor Civek was perhaps just a 
little less than completely honest 
with us?” 

"I’m thinking,” she said, "that 
I should have stayed with Aunt 
Hattie another night, then taken 
a plane to Washington.” 

"Washington?” Don said. 
"That’s where I’m going. I mean 
where I was going before Supe- 



10 



INFINITY 



rior became airborne. What do 
you do in Washington, Miss 
Jervis?” 

"I work for the government. 
Doesn’t everybody?” 

"Not everybody. Me, for in- 
stance.” 

"No?” she said. "Judging by 
that satchel you're handcuffed to 
I’d have thought you were a 
courier for the Pentagon. Or 
maybe State.” 

He laughed quickly and loudly 
because she was getting uncom- 
fortably close. "Oh, no. Nothing 
so glamorous. I’m a messenger 
for the Riggs National Bank, 
that’s all. Where do you work?” 

"I’m with Senator Bobby The- 
bold, S.O.B.” 

Don laughed again. "He sure 
is.” 

"Mister Cort!” she said, an- 
noyed. "You know as well as I 
do that S.O.B. stands for Senate 
Office Building. I’m his secre- 
tary.” 

"I’m sorry. We’d better get 
out- and find a place to sleep. It’s 
getting late.” 

"Places to sleep,” she correct- 
ed. She looked angry. 

"Of course,” Don said, puz- 
zled by her emphasis. "Come on. 
Where they put you, you’ll prob- 
ably be surrounded by co-eds, 
even if I could get out of this 
cuff.” _ 

He took her bag in his free 
hand and they were met by a gray- 
haired woman who introduced 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



herself as Mrs. Caret. "We’ll try 
to make you comfortable,” she 
said. "What a night, eh? The 
professor is simply beside him- 
self. We haven’t had so much 
excitement since the Cosmolinea- 
tor blew up.” 

They had a glimpse of the 
professor, still in his CD helmet, 
going around a corner, gesticu- 
lating wildly to someone wearing 
a white laboratory smock. 

CHAPTER HI 

D on Cort had slept, but not 
well. He’d tried to fold the 
brief case to pull it through his 
sleeve so he could take his coat 
off but whatever was inside the 
brief case was too big. Cavalier 
had given him a room to himself 
at one end of a dormitory and 
he’d taken his pants oflp but had 
had to sleep with his coat and 
shirt on. 

He got up, feeling gritty, and 
did what little dressing was nec- 
essary. It was eight o’clock, ac- 
cording to the watch on the 
unhandcuffed wrist, and things 
were going on. He had a view of 
the campus from his window. A 
bright sun shone on young peo- 
ple moving generally toward a 
squat building and other people 
going in random directions. The 
first were students going to 
breakfast, he supposed, and the 
others were faculty members. 
The air was very clear and the 

11 



long morning shadows distinct. 
Only then did he remember com- 
pletely that he and the whole 
town of Superior were up in the 
air. 

He went through the dormi- 
tory. A few students were still 
sleeping. The others had gone 
from their unmade beds. He 
shivered as he stepped outdoors. 
It was crisp, if not freezing, and 
his breath came out visibly. First 
he’d eat, he decided, so he’d be 
strong enough to go take a good 
look over the Edge, in broad day- 
light, to the Earth below. 

The mess hall, or whatever 
they called it, was cafeteria style, 
and he got in line with a tray for 
juice, eggs and coffee. He saw 
no one he knew, but as he was 
looking for a table a willowy 
blonde girl smiled and gestured 
to the empty place opposite her. 

"You’re Mr. Cort,’’ she said. 
"Won’t you join me?’’ 

"Thanks,” he said, unloading 
his tray. "How did you know?” 

"The mystery man wdth the 
handcuff. You’d be hard to miss. 
I’m Alis — that’s A-l-i-s, not 
A-l-i-c-e — Caret. Are you with 
the FBI? Or did you escape from 
jail?” 

"How do you do. No, just a 
bank messenger. What an un- 
usual name. Professor Caret’s 
daughter?” 

"The same,” she said. "Also 
the only. A pity, because if 
there’d been two of us I’d have 



had a fifty-fifty chance of going 
to OSU. As it is. I’m duty-bound 
to represent the second genera- 
tion at the nut factory.’’ 

"Nut factory? You mean Cav- 
alier?” Don struggled to manip- 
ulate knife and fork without 
knocking things off the table 
with his clinging brief case. 

"Here, let me cut your eggs 
for you,” Alis said. "You’d better 
order them scrambled tomorrow. 
Yes, Cavalier. Home of the 
crackpot theory and the latter-day 
alchemist. ” 

"I’m sure it’s not that bad. 
Thanks. As for tomorrow, I 
hope to be out of here by then.” 
"How do you get down from 
an elephant? Old riddle. You 
don’t; you get down from ducks. 
How do you plan to get down 
from Superior?” 

"I’ll find a way. I’m more 
interested at the moment in how 
I got up here.” 

"You were levitated, like 
everybody else.” 

"You make it sound deliber- 
ate, Miss Caret, as if somebody 
hoisted a whole patch of real 
estate for some fell purpose.” 
"Scarcely fell, Mr. Cort. As 
for it being deliberate, that seems 
to be a matter of opinion. Appar- 
ently you haven’t seen the 
papers.” 

"I didn’t know there were 
any.” 

"Actually there’s only one. 
The Superior Sentry, a weekly. 



12 



INFINITY 



This is an extra. Ed Clark must 
have been up all night getting 
it out. ” She opened her purse and 
unfolded a four-page tabloid. 

Don blinked at the headline: 

Town Gets High 

"Ed Clark’s something of an 
eccentric, like everybody else in 
Superior,” Alis said. 

Don read the story, which 
seemed to him a capricious treat- 
ment of an apparently grave 
situation. 

"Residents having business be- 
yond the outskirts of town today 
are advised not to. It’s a long 
/way down. 

"Where yesterday Superior 
was surrounded by Ohio, as 
usual, today Superior ends liter- 
ally at Town Line. 

"A Citizens’ Emergency Fence- 
Building Committee is being 
formed, but in the meantime all 
are warned to stay well away 
from the Edge. The law of 
gravity seems to have been re- 
pealed for the town but it is 
doubtful if the same exemption 
would apply to a dubious indi- 
vidual bent on investigating ...” 

Don skimmed the rest. "I 
don’t see anything about it being 
deliberate.” 

Alis had been creaming and 
sugaring Don’s coffee. She push- 
ed it across to him and said, "It’s 
not on page one. Ed Clark and 
Mayor Civek don’t get along, so 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



you’ll find the mayor’s statement 
in a box on page three, bottom.” 

Don creased the paper the 
other way, took a sip of coffee, 
nodded his thanks and read: 

"Mayor Claims Secession 
From Earth 

"Mayor Hector Civek, in a 
proclamation issued locally by 
hand and dropped to, the rest of 
the world in a plastic shatter- 
proof bottle, said today that Su- 
perior had seceded from Earth. 
His reasons were as vague as his 
explanation. 

"The 'reasons’ include these: 
( 1 ) Superior has been discrimin- 
ated against by county, state and 
federal agencies; (2) Cavalier 
Institute has been held up to 
global derision by orthodox 
(presumably meaning accredit- 
ed) colleges and universities; 
and (3) chicle exporters have 
conspired against the Superior 
Bubble Gum Company by unrea- 
sonably raising prices. 

"The 'explanation’ consists of 
a 63-page treatise on Applied 
Magnology by Professor Osbert 
Garet of Cavalier which the edi- 
tor (a) does not understand, (b) 
lacks space to publish and which 
(it being atrociously handwrit- 
ten), (c) he has not the temerity 
to ask his linotype operator to 
set.” 

Don said, "I’m beginning to 
like this Ed Clark.” 



13 



"He’s a doll,’’ Alls said. "He’s 
about the only one in town who 
stands up to Father.” 

"Does your father claim that 
he levitated Superior off the face 
of the Earth?” 

"Not to me he doesn’t. I’m 
one of those banes of his exist- 
ence, a skeptic. He gave up trying 
to magnolize me when I was six- 
teen. I had a science teacher in 
high school — not in Superior, in- 
cidentally — ^who gave me all 
kinds of embarrassing questions 
to ask Father. I asked them, 
being a natural-born needier, and 
Father has disowmed me intel- 
lectually ever since.” 

"How old are you. Miss Caret, 
if I may ask?” 

She sat up straight and tucked 
her sweater tightly into her skirt, 
emphasizing her figure. To a 
male friend Don would have de- 
scribed the figure as outstanding. 
She had mocking eyes, a pert 
nose and a mouth of such moist 
red softness that it seemed per- 
petually waiting to be kissed. All 
in all she had the beauty of youth 
and could have been the queen of 
a campus mucli more densely 
populated with co-eds than Ca- 
valier was. 

"You may call me Alls,” she 
said. "And I’m nineteen.” 

Don grinned. "Going on?” 
"Three months past. How old 
are you, Mr. Cort?” 

"Don’s the name I’ve had for 
twenty -six years. Please use it.” 



"Gladly. And now, Don, un- 
less you want another cup of 
coffee. I’ll go with you to the 
end of the world.” 

"On such short notice?” Don 
was intrigued. Last night the red- 
head from the club car had re- 
pelled an advance that hadn’t 
been made and this morning a 
blonde was apparently making 
an advance that hadn’t been 
solicited. He wondered where 
Geneva Jer\ds was, but only 
vaguely. 

"I’ll admit the entendre was 
double,” Alls said. "What I 
meant — for now — was that we 
can stroll out to where Superior 
used to be attached to the rest 
of Ohio and see how the Earth is 
getting along without us.” 

"Delighted. But don’t you 
have any classes?” 

"Sure I do. Non-Einsteinian 
Relativity 1, at nine o’clock. But 
I’m a demon class cutter, which 
is why I’m still a senior at my 
advanced age. On to the brink!” 

CH.IPTER IV^ 

T hey walked south from the 
campus and came to the rail- 
road track. The train was stand- 
ing there with nowhere to go. It 
had been abandoned except for 
the conductor, who had dutifully 
spent the night aboard. 

"What’s happening?” he ask- 
ed when he saw them. "Any 
word from down there?” 



14 



INFINITY 



"Not that I know of,” Don 
said. He introduced him to Alis 
Caret. "What are you going to 



do?” 



"What can I do?” the conduc- 
tor asked. 

"You can go over to Cavalier 
and have breakfast,” Alis said. 
"Nobody’s going to steal your 
old train.” 

The conductor reckoned as 
how he might just do that, and 
did. 



"You know,” Don said, "I was 
half asleep last night but before 
the train stopped I thought it 
was running alongside a creek 
for a while.” 

"South Creek,” Alis said. 
"Tliat’s right. It’s just over 
there.” 

"Is it still? I mean hasn’t it 
all poured off the Edge by now? 
Was that Superior’s water sup- 
ply?” 

Alis shrugged. "All I know 
is you turn on the faucet and 
there’s water. Let’s go look at the 
creek.” 

They found it coursing along 
betv'een the banks. 

“Looks just about the same,” 
she said. 

"That’s funny. Come on; let’s 
follow it to the Edge.” 

The brink, as Alis called it, 
looked even more awesome by 
daylight. Everything stopped 
short. - There were the remnants 
of a cornfield, with the withered 
stalks cut down, then there was 



nothing. There was South Creek 
surging along, then nothing. In 
the distance a clump of trees, 
with a few autumn leaves still 
clinging to their branches, sim- 
ply ended. 

"Where is the water going?” 
Don asked. "I can’t make it 
out.” 

"Down, I’d say. Rain for the 
Earthpeople.” 

"I should think it’d be all 
dried up by now. I’m going to 
have a look.” 

"Don’t! You’ll fall off!” 

"I’ll be careful.” He walked 
cautiously toward the Edge, Alis 
followed him, a few feet behind. 
He stopped a yard from the 
brink and waited for a spell of 
dizzihess to pass. The Earth was 
spread out like a topographer’s 
map, far below. Don took an- 
otlier wary step, then sat down. 

"Chicken,” said Alis. She 
laughed uncertainly, then she sat 
down, too. 

"I still can’t see where the 
water goes,” Don said. He 
stretched out on his stomach and 
began to inch forward. "You 
stay there.” 

Finally he had inched to a 
point where, by stretching out a 
hand, he could almost reach the 
Edge. He gave another wriggle 
and the fingers of his right hand 
closed over the brink. For a mo- 
ment he lay there, panting. 

"How do you feel?” Alis 
asked. 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



15 





"Scared. When I get my cour- 
age back I’ll pick” up my head and 
look.” 

Alis put a hand out tentative- 
ly, then purposefully took hold 
of his arikle and held it tight. 
"Just in case a high wind comes 
along,” she said. 



"Thanks. It helps. Okay, here 
we go.” He lifted his head. 
"Damn.” 

"What?” 

"It still isn’t clear. Do you 
have a pocket mirror?” 

"I have a compact.” She took 
it out of her bag with her free 



u 



INFINITY 





hand and tossed it to him. It 
rolled and Don had to grab to 
keep it from going over the 
Edge. Alis gave a little shriek. 
Don was momentarily unnerved 
and had to put his head back on 
the ground. "Sorry,” she said. 

Don opened the compact and 



carefully transferred it to his 
right hand. He held it out an 
inch beyond the Edge -and peered 
into it, focusing it on the end of 
the creek. "Now I've got it. The 
water isn’t draining away!” 

"It isn’t.^ Then where is it go- 
• *1 >> 
ing? 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



17 



"Down, of course, but it’s as 
if it’s going into a well, or a ver- 
tical tunnel, a few feet below the 
Edge.’’ 

"Why? How?’’ 

"I can’t see too well, but 
that’s my impression. Hold on 
now: I’m coming back.’’ He 
inched away from the Edge, then 
got up and brushed himself off. 
He returned her compact. "I 
guess you know where we go 
next.’’ 

"The other end of the creek?” 

"Exactly.” 

South Creek did not bisect 
Superior, as Don thought it 
might, but flowed in an arc 
through a southern segment of 
it. They had about two miles to 
go, past South Creek Bridge — 
which used to lead to Ladenburg, 
Alls said — past Raleigh Country 
Club (a long drive would really 
put the ball out of play, Don 
thought) and on to the Edge 
again. 

But as they approached what 
they were forced to consider the 
source of the creek, they found 
a wire fence at the spot. "This is 
new,” Alis said. 

The fence, which had a sign 
on it. Warning — Electrified, 
was semi-circular, with each end 
at the Edge and tarpaulins 
strung behind it so they could 
not see the mouth of the creek. 
The water flowed from under the 
tarp and fence. 



"Look how it comes in spurts,” 
Alis said. 

"As if it’s being pumped.” 
Smaller print on the sign said: 
Protecting mouth of South Creek, 
one of two sources of water for 
Superior. Electrical charge in 
fence is sufficient to kill. Signed, 
Vincent Grande, Chief of Po- 
lice; Hector Civek, Mayor. 

"What’s the other source, be- 
sides the faucet in your bath- 
room?” Don asked. 

"North Lake, maybe,” Alis 
said. "People fish there but no- 
body’s allowed to swim.” 

"Is the lake entirely within 
the town limits?” 

"I don’t know.” 

"If it were on the Edge, and 
if I took a rowboat out on it, I 
wonder what would happen?” 

"I know one thing — would- 
n’t be there holding your ankle 
while you found out.” 

She took his arm as they gazed 
past the electrified fence at the 
Earth below and to the west. 

"It’s impressive, isn’t it?” she 
said. "I wonder if that’s Indiana 
way over there?” 

He patted her hand absent- 
mindedly. "I wonder if it’s west 
at all. I mean, how do we know 
Superior is maintaining the same 
position up here as it used to 
down there?” 

"We could tell by the sun, 
silly.” 

"Of course,” he said, grinning 
at his stupidity. "And I guess 



18 



INFINITY 



CHAPTER V 



we’re not high enough to see very 
far. If we were we’d be able to 
see the Great Lakes — or Lake 
Erie, anyway.” 

They were musing about the 
geography when a plane came 
out of a cloudbank and, a second 
later, veered sharply. They could 
make out UAL on the underside 
of a wing. As it turned they 
imagined they could see faces 
peering out of the windows. They 
waved and thought they saw one 
or two people wave back. Then 
the plane climbed toward the 
east and was gone. 

"Well,” Don said as they 
turned to go back to Cavalier, 
"now we know that they know. 
Maybe we’ll begin to get some 
answers. Or, if not answers, then 
transportation.” 

"Transportation?” Alis squeez- 
ed the arm she was holding. 
"Why? Don’t you like it here?” 

"If you mean don’t I like you, 
the answer is yes, of course I do. 
But if I don’t get out of this 
handcuff soon so I can take a 
bath and get into clean clothes 
you’re not going to like me.” 

"You’re still quite acceptable, 
if a bit whiskery.” She stopped, 
still holding his arm, and he 
turned so they were face to face. 
"So kiss me,” she said, "before 
you deteriorate.” 

They were in the midst of an 
extremely pleasant kiss when the 
brief case at the end of Don’s 
handcuff began to talk to him. 



M uch of the rest of the world 
was inclined to regard the 
elevation of Superior, Ohio, as a 
Fortean phenomenon in the same 
category as flying saucers and sea 
monsters. 

The press had a field day. 
The headlines were whimsical. 

Town Takes Off 
Superior Lives Up To Name 
A Rising Community 

The city council .of Superior, 
Wisconsin, passed a resolution 
urging its Ohio namesake to 
come back down. The Superiors 
in Nebraska, Wyoming, Ari- 
zona and West Virginia, glad to 
have the publicity, added their 
voices to the plea. 

The Pennsylvania Railroad 
filed a suit demanding that the 
State of Ohio return forthwith 
one train and five miles of right- 
of-way. 

The price of bubble gum went 
up from one cent to three for a 
nickel. 

In Parliament a Labour mem- 
ber rose to ask the Home Secre- 
tary for assurances that all Brit- 
ish cities were firmly fastened 
down. 

An Ohio waterworks put in a 
bid for the sixteen square miles 
of hole that Superior had left 
behind, explaining that it would 
make a fine reservoir. 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



19 



A company that leased out big 
advertising signs in Times 
Square offered Superior a quar- 
ter of a million dollars for ex- 
clusive rights to advertising 
space on its bottom, or Earth- 
ward, side. It sent the offer by 
air mail, leaving delivery up to 
the post office. 

In Washington Senator Bobby 
Thebold ascertained that his red- 
haired secretary, Jen Jervis, had 
been aboard the train levitated 
with Superior and registered a 
series of complaints by telephone, 
starting with the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission and the rail- 
road brotherhoods. He asked the 
FBI to investigate the possibility 
of kidnaping and muttered about 
the likelihood of it all being a 
Communist plot. 

A little-known congressman 
from Ohio started a rumor that 
the raising of Superior was an 
experiment connected with the 
United States Earth Satellite pro- 
gram. The National Science 
Foundation issued a quick denial. 

Two MEN talked earnestly in 
an efficient-looking room at the 
end of one of the more intricate 
mazes in the Pentagon Building. 
Neither wore a uniform but the 
younger man called the other Sir, 
or Chief, or General. 

"We’ve established definitely 
that Sergeant Cort was on that 
train, have we?” the general 
asked. 



"Yes, sir. No doubt about it.” 

"And he has the item with 
him?” 

"He must have. The only keys 
are here and at the other end. He 
couldn’t open the handcuff or 
the brief case.” 

"The only known keys, that 
is.” 

"Oh? How’s that. General?” 

"The sergeant can open the 
brief case and use the item if we 
tell him how.” 

"You thir^k it’s time to use it? 
I thought we were saving it.” 

"That was before Superior de- 
fected. Now we can use it to 
more advantage than any theoreti- 
cal use it might be put to in the 
foreseeable future.” 

"We could evacuate Cort. 
Take him off in a helicopter or 
drop him a parachute and let him 
jump.” 

"No. Having him there is a 
piece of luck. No one knows who 
he is. We’ll assign him there for 
the duration and have him report 
regularly. Let’s go to the message 
center. ” 

Senator Bobby Thebold 
was an imposing six-feet-two, a 
muscular 195, a youthful-looking 
43 . He wore his steel-gray hair 
cut short and his skin was tan the 
year round. He was a bachelor. 
He had been a fighter pilot in 
World War II and his conversa- 
tion was peppered with air force 
slang, much of it out of date. 



20 



INFINITY 



Thebold was good newspaper 
copy and one segment of the 
press, admiring his fighting ways, 
had dubbed him Bobby the Bold. 
The Senator did not mind a bit. 

At the moment Senator The- 
bold was pacing the carpet in the 
ample working space he’d fought 
to acquire in the Senate Office 
Building. He was momentarily at 
a loss. His inquiries about Jen 
Jervis had elicited no satisfaction 
from the ICC, the FBI, or the 
CIA. He was in an alphabetical 
train of thought and went on to 
consider the CAA, the CAB and 
the CAP. He snapped his fingers 
at CAP. He had it. 

The Civil Air Patrol itself he 
considered a la-de-da outfit of 
gentleman flyers, skittering 
around in light planes, admitted- 
ly doing some good, but by and 
large nothing to excite a former 
P-38 pilot who’d won a chestful 
of ribbons for action in the 
Southwest Pacific. 

Ah, but the PP. There was an 
organization! Bobby Thebold 
had been one of the founders of 
the Private Pilots, a hard-flying 
outfit that zoomed into the wild 
blue yonder on weekends and 
holidays, engines aroar, propel- 
lers aglint, white silk scarves 
aflap. PP"s members were wealthy 
industrialists, stunt flyers, sports- 
men — ^the elite of the air. 

PP was a paramilitary organ- 
ization with the rank of its offi- 
cers patterned after the Royal Air 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



Force. Thus Bobby Thebold, by 
virtue of his war record, his 
charter membership and his na- 
tional eminence, was Wing Com- 
mander Thebold, DFC. 

Wing Commander Thebold 
swung into action. He barked 
into the intercom: "Miss Riley! 
Get tlie airport. Have them rev 
up Charger, Tell them I’ll be 
there for o-nine-fifty-eight take- 
off. Ten-hundred will do. And 
get my car.” 

Charger was Bobby the fold’s 
war surplus P-38- Lightning, a 
sleek, twin-boomed two-engine 
fighter plane restored to its 
gleaming, paintless aluminum. 
Actually it was an unarmed 
photo-reconnaissance version of 
the famous warhorse of the Pa- 
cific, a fact the Wing Com- 
mander preferred to ignore. In 
compensation, he belted on a .45 
whenever he climbed into the 
cockpit. 

Thebold got onto Operations 
in PP’s midwestern headquarters 
in Chicago. He barked, long dis- 
tance: 

"Jack Perley? Group Captain 
Perley, that is.^ Bobby; that’s 
right. Wing Commander The- 
bold now. We’ve got a mission, 
Jack. Scramble Blue Squadron. 
What? Of course you can; this is 
an emergency. We’ll rendezvous 
north of Columbus — I’ll give 
you the exact grid in half an 
hour, when I’m airborne. Can 
do? Good-o! ETA? Eleven- 

21 



twenty EST. Well, maybe that is 
optimistic, but I hate to see the 
day slipping by. Make it eleven 
forty'five. What? Objective? Ob- 
jective Superior! Got it? Okay — 
roger!” 

Wing Commander Bobby The- 
bold took his Lindbergh-stj'le 
helmet and goggles from a desk 
drawer, caressing the limp leather 
fondly, and put them in a dis- 
patch case. He gave a soft salute 
to the door behind which Jen 
Jervis customarily worked, more 
as his second-in-command than 
his secretary, and said half aloud: 

"Okay, Jen, we’re coming to 
get you.” 

He didn’t know quite how, but 
Bobby the Bold and Charger 
would soon be on their way. 

CHAPTER VI 

D on Cort regretfully detach- 
ed himself from Alls Caret. 
"What was that?” he said. 
"That was me — Alis the love- 
starved. You could be a bit more 
gallant. Even 'How was that?’, 
though corny, would have been 
preferable.” 

"No — I mean I thought I 
heard a voice. Didn’t you hear 
anything?” 

"To be perfectly frank — and 
I say it with some pique — I was 
totally absorbed. Obviously you 
weren’t.” 

"It was very nice.” The coun- 
tryside, from the Edge with its 



fenced-in mouth of the creek to 
the golf course, was deserted. 

"Well, thanks. Thanks a 
bunch. Such enthusiasm is more 
than I can bear. I have to go now. 
There’s an eleven o’clock class in 
Magnetic Flux that I’m simply 
dying to audit.” 

She gave her shoulder-length 
blonde hair a toss and started 
back. Don hesitated, looked sus- 
piciously at the brief case dangling 
from his wrist, shook his head, 
then followed her. The voice, 
wherever it came from, had not 
spoken again. 

"Don’t be angry, Alis.” He 
fell into step on her left and took 
her arm with his free hand. "It’s 
just that everything is so crazy 
and nobody seems to be taking 
it seriously. A town doesn’t just 
get up and take off, and yet no- 
body up here seems terribly con- 
cerned.” 

Alis squeezed the hand that 
held her arm, mollified. "You’ve 
got lipstick on your whiskers.” 

"Good. I’ll never shave again.” 

"Ah,” she laughed, "gallantry 
at last. I’ll tell you what let’s do. 
We’ll go see Ed Clark, the editor 
of the Sentry. Maybe he’ll give 
you some intelligent conversa- 
tion.” 

The newspaper office was in a 
ramshackle one-story building on 
Lyric Avenue, a block off Broad- 
way, Superior’s main street. It 
was in an ordinary store front 
whose windows displayed various 



22 



INFINITY 



ancient stand-up cardboard post- 
ers calling attention to a church 
supper, a state fair, an auto race 
and a movie starring H. B. 
Warner. A dust-covered banner 
urged the election as president 
of Alfred E. Smith. 

There was no one in the front 
of the shop. Alis led Don to the 
rear where a tall skinny man with 
straggly gray hair in a semi-circle 
around a bald head was setting 
type. 

“Good morning, Mr. Clark,” 
she said. "What’s that you’re set- 
ting — an anti-Hoover handbill?” 
"Hello, Al. How are you this 
fine altitudinous day?” 

"Super. Or should it be su- 
pra? I want you to meet Don 
Cort. Don, Mr. Clark.” 

The men shook hands and 
Clark looked curiously at Don’s 
handcuff. 

"It’s my theory he’s an em- 
bezzler,” Alis said, "and he’s 
made this his getaway town.” 

"As a matter of fact,” Don 
said, "the Riggs National Bank 
will be worried if I don’t get in 
touch with them soon. I guess 
you’d know, Mr. Clark — is there 
any communication at all out of 
town?” By prearrangement, a 
message from Don to Riggs 
would have been forwarded to 
military intelligence. 

"I don’t know of any, except 
for the Civek method — a bottle 
tossed over the Edge. The tele- 
graph and telephone lines are 



cut, of course. There is a radio 
station in town, WCAV, operat- 
ed from the campus, but it’s been 
silent ever since the great sever- 
ence. At least nothing local has 
come over my old Atwater Kent.” 

"Isn’t anybody doing any- 
thing?” Don asked. 

“Sure,” Clark said. "I’m get- 
ting out my paper — there was 
even an extra this morning — and 
doing job printing. The job is 
for a jeweler in Ladenburg and 
I don’t know how I’ll deliver it, 
but no one’s told me to stop so 
I’m doing it. I guess everybody’s 
carrying on pretty much as be- 
fore.” 

"That’s what I mean. Business 
as usual. But how about the peo- 
ple who do business out of town? 
What’s Western Union doing, 
for instance, and trucking com- 
panies? And the factories? You 
have tv'O factories, I understand, 
and pretty soon there’s going to 
be a mighty big surplus of 
kitchen sinks and chewing gum.” 

"You two go on settling our 
fate,” Alis said. "I’d better get 
back to school. Look me up later, 
Don.” She waved and went out. 

"Fine girl, that Alis,” Clark 
said. "Got her old man’s gump- 
tion without his nutty streak, "ro 
answer your question, the West- 
ern Union man here is catching 
up on his bookkeeping and ac- 
cepting outgoing messages con- 
tingent on restoration of service. 
The sink factory made a ship- 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



23 



ment two days ago and won’t 
have another ready till next week, 
so they’re carrying on. They have 
enough raw material for a month. 
I was planning to visit the bubble 
gum people this afternoon to see 
how they’re doing. Maybe you’d 
like to come.” 

“Yes, I would. I still chew it 
once in a while, on the sly.” 
Clark grinned. "I won’t tell. 
Would you like to tidy up, Don? 
There’s a washroom out back, 
with a razor and some mys- 
terious running water. Now 
there’s a phenomenon I’d like to 
get to the bottom of.” 

"Thanks. I’ll shave with it 
now and worry about its source 
later. Do you think Professor 
Caret and his Magnology cult 
has anything to do with it?” 
"He’d like to think so, I’m 
sure.” Clark shrugged. "We’ve 
been airborne less than twelve 
hours. I guess the answers will 
come in time. You go clean up 
and I’ll get back to my job.” 
Don felt better when he had 
shaved. It had been awkward be- 
cause he hadn’t been able to take 
off his coat or shirt, but he’d 
managed. He was drying his face 
when the voice came again. This 
time there was no doubt it came 
from the brief case drained to his 
handcuff. 

"Are you alone now?” it 
asked. 

Startled, Don said, "Yes.” 
"Good. Speak doser to tlie 



brief case so we won’t be over- 
heard. This is Captain Simmons, 
Sergeant.” 

"Yes, sir.” 

"Take out your ID card. Sep- 
arate the two pieces of plastic. 
There’s a flat plastic key next to 
the card. Open the brief case lock 
with it.” 

The voice was silent until Don, 
with the help of a razor blade, 
had done as he was directed. "All 
right, sir; that’s done.” 

"Open die brief case, take out 
the package, open the package 
and put the wrappings back in 
the briefcase.” 

Again the voice stopped. Don 
unwrapped something that look- 
ed like a flat cigarette case with 
two appendages, one a disk of 
perforated hard rubber the size 
of a half dollar and the other a 
three-quarter-inch-wide ribbon of 
opaque plastic. 'Tve got it, sir.” 
"Good. What you see is a 
highly advanced radio transmit- 
ter and receiver. You can imag- 
ine its value in the field. It’s a 
pilot model you were bringing 
back from the contractor for 
tests here. But this seems as use- 
ful a way to test it as any other.” 
"It’s range is fantastic. Cap- 
tain — if you’re in Washington.” 
"I am. Now. The key also un- 
locks the handcuff. Unlock it. 
Strip to the waist. Bend the plas- 
tic strip to fit over your shoulder 
— either one, as you choose. 
Arrange the perforated disk so 

INFINITY 



24 



it’s at the base of your neck, un- 
der your shirt collar. The thing 
that looks like a cigarette case is 
the power pack.” 

Don followed the instructions, 
rubbing his wrist in relief as the 
handcuff came off. The radio had 
been well designed and its com- 
ponents went into place as if 
they had been built to his meas- 
ure. They tickled a little on his 
bare skin, that was all. The power 
pack was surprisingly light. 
"That’s done, sir,” Don said. 
The answer came softly. "So 
I hear. You almost blasted my 
ear off. From now on, when you 
speak to me, or whoever’s at this 
end, a barely audible murmur 
will be sufficient. Try it.” 

"Yes, Captain,” Don whis- 
pered. "I’m trying it now.” 
"Don’t whisper. I can hear you 
all right, but so could people you 
wouldn’t want overhearing at 
your end. A whisper carries far- 
ther than you think. Talk low.” 
Don practiced while he put his 
shirt, tie and coat back on. 

"Good,” Captain Simmons 
said. ■ "Practice talking without 
moving your lips, for occasions 
when you might have to transmit 
to us in someone’s view. Now 
put your handcuff back on and 
lock it.” 

"Oh, damn,” Don said under 
his breath. 

"I heard that.” 

"Sorry, sir, but it is a nuis- 
ance.” 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



"I know, but you have to get 
rid of it logically. When you get 
a chance go to the local bank. It’s 
the Superior State Bank on Mc- 
Entee Street. Show them your 
credentials from Riggs National 
and ask them to keep your brief 
case in their vault. Get a receipt. 
Then, at your first opportunity, 
burn the plastic key and your ID 
card.” 

"Yes, sir.” 

"Keep up your masquerade as 
a bank messenger and try to find 
out, as if you were an ordinary 
curiosity-seeker, all you can 
about Cavalier Institute. You’ve 
made a good start with the Caret 
girl. Get to know her father.” 
"Yes, sir.” Don realized with 
embarrassment that his little ro- 
mantic interlude with Alis must 
have been eavesdropped on. 
"Are there any particular times 
I’m to report?” 

“You will be reporting con- 
stantly. That’s the beauty of this 
radio.” 

"You mean I can’t turn it off.^ 
I won’t have any privacy? 
There’ll always be somebody 
listening?” 

"Exactly. But you mustn’t be 
inhibited. Your private life is 
still your own and no one will 
criticize. Your unofficial actions 
will simply be ignored.” 

"Oh, great!” 

"You must rely on our discre- 
tion, Sergeant. I’m sure you’ll get 
used to it. Enough of this for 

25 



now. We mustn’t excite Clark’s 
suspicions. Go back to him now 
and carry on. You’ll receive fur- 
ther instructions as they are 
necessary. And remember — don’t 
be inhibited.” 

"No, sir,” Don said ruefully. 
He went back to the printshop, 
feeling like a goldfish bowk 

CHAPTER VII 

E d Clark took Don to the Su- 
perior State Bank and intro- 
duced him to the president, who 
was delighted to do business with 
a representative of Riggs Na- 
tional of Washington, D. C. Don 
told him nothing about the con- 
tents of the brief case but the 
banker seemed to be under the 
impression they were securities 
or maybe even a million dollars 
cash, and Don said nothing to 
spoil his pleasure. 

Outside again, with the receipt 
in his wallet, Don stood with 
Clark on the corner of McEntee 
Street and Broadway. 

"This is the heart of town, you 
might say,” the newspaper editor 
said. "The bubble gum factory is 
over that way, on the railroad 
spur. Maybe you can smell it. 
Smells real nice, I think.” 

Don rubbed the wrist that had 
been manacled for so long. He 
was sniffing politely when there 
was a roar of engines and a 
squadron of fighter planes buzzed 
Broadway. 



They screamed over at little 
more than roof level, then were 
gone. They were overhead so 
briefly that Don noticed only 
that they were P-38s, at least four 
of them. 

"Things are beginning to hap- 
pen,” Don said. "The Air Force 
is having a look-see.” 

Clark shook his head. "That 
wasn’t the Air Force. Those 
were the PP boys. They’re the 
only ones who fly those Light- 
nings these days.” 

"PP?” 

"Private Pilots. Bobby the 
Bold’s airborne vigilantes. Won- 
der what they’re up to?” 

"Oh, Senator Bobby Thebold, 
S.O.B.” 

"If you want to put it that 
way, yes.” 

"It’s a private joke. But I 
think I know what they’re up to 
— or why. The Senator’s secretary 
is marooned up here, like me. 
She was on the train, too.” 

"You don’t say! I got scooped 
on that one. Which one is she?” 
"The redhead. Geneva Jervis. 
I haven’t seen her since last 
night, come to think of it.” 

The P-38s screamed over 
again, this time from west to 
east. Don counted six planes now 
and made out the PP markings. 
People had come out of stores 
and business buildings and were 
looking out of upstairs windows 
at the sky. They were rewarded 
by a third thundering flypast of 



26 



INFINITY 



the fighter planes. They were 
higher this time, spread out lat- 
erally as if to search maximum 
terrain. 

"Big deal,” Clark said. "This 
show would bring anyone out- 
doors, but even if they see her 
what do you suppose they can do 
about it? There’s no place in 
town flat enough for a Piper Cub 
to land, let alone a fighter plane.” 

"How about the golf course?” 

"Raleigh? Worst set of links 
in the whole United States. A 
helicopter could put down there, 
but that’s about all. What’s old 
Bobby so worked up about, I 
wonder? Unless there’s some- 
thing to that gossip about this 
Jervis girl being his mistress and 
he’s showing off for her.” 

"He’d show off for anybody, 
they tell me,” Don said. Then he 
remembered that military intelli- 
gence was listening in. If any 
pro-Thebold people were among 
his eavesdroppers, he hoped they 
respected his private right to be 
anti-Thebold. 

At that moment he and Clark 
were thrown against the side of 
the bank building. They clung to 
each other and Don noticed that 
the sun had moved a few degrees 
in the sky. 

"Oh-oh,” Clark grunted. "Su- 
perior’s taking evasive action. 
Thinks it’s being attacked.” As 
they regained their footing he 
asked, "Do you feel heavy in the 
legs?” 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



"Yes. As if I were going up 
in an express elevator.” 

"Exactly. Somebody’s getting 
us up beyond the reach of these 
pesky planes. I’d guess.” 

The P-38s were overhead 
again but now they seemed to be 
diving on the town. More likely, 
if Clark’s theory were right, it 
was an illusion — the planes were 
flying level but the town was ris- 
ing fast. 

"They’d better climb,” Don 
said, "or they’ll crash!” 

There was the sound of a 
crash almost immediately, from 
the south end of town. Don and 
Clark ran toward it, fighting the 
heaviness in their legs. 

A dozen others were ahead of 
them, running sluggishly across 
South Creek Bridge. Beyond, just 
short of the Edge, was the 
wreckage of a fighter plane and 
behind it the torn-up ground of 
a crash landing. There was no 
fire. 

The pilot struggled out of the 
cockpit. He dropped to the 
ground, felt himself to see if any 
bones were broken, then saw the 
crowd running toward him. 

The pilot hesitated, then ran 
toward the Edge. Shouts came 
from the crowd. With a last 
glance over his shoulder the pilot 
leaped and went over the Edge. 

The crowd, Don and Clark 
among them, approached more 
cautiously. They made out a fall- 
ing dot and, a second later, saw 

27 



a parachute blossom open. The 
other planes appeared and flew 
a wide protective circle around 
the chutist. 

"Do you think that’s Bobby 
Thebold?” Don asked. 

"Probably not. That was the 
last plane in the formation. The- 
bold would be the leader.” 

They went back past the 
crashed plane, surrounded by a 
growing crowd from town, and 
recrossed the bridge. 

"Look at the water,” the 
editor said. "Ice is forming.” 

"And we’re still rising,” Don 
said, "if my legs are any judge. 
Do you think there’s a connec- 
tion?” 

Clark shrugged. He turned up 
his coat collar and rubbed his 
hands. "All I know is the higher 
we go the colder we get. Come 
on back to the shop and warm 
up.” 

They turned at the sound of 
engines. Two of the five remain- 
ing P-38s had detached them- 
selves from their cover of the 
chutist and were flying around 
the rim of Superior — as if un- 
willing to risk another flight 
across the surface of the tow/i 
that seemed determined to be- 
come a satellite of Earth.- 

CHAPTER VIII 

W HEN Don Cort reached 
the campus he was shiver- 
ing, in spite of the sweater and 



topcoat Ed Clark had lent him. 
He asked a student where the ad- 
ministration building was and 
at the desk inquired for Profes- 
sor Caret. 

A gray-haired, dedicated-look- 
ing woman told him impatiently 
that Professor Caret was in his 
laboratory and couldn’t be dis- 
turbed. She wouldn’t tell him 
where the laboratory was. 

"Have you seen Miss Jervis?” 
Don wondered whether the red- 
head appreciated the demonstra- 
tion her boss, the flying senator, 
had put on for her. 

The woman behind the desk 
shook her head. "You’re two of 
the people from the train, aren’t 
you? Well, you’re all supposed to 
report in the dining room at two 
o’clock.” 

"What for?” 

"You’ll find out at two 
o’clock.” 

It was obvious he would get 
no more information from her. 
Don left the building. It was 
half-past one. He crossed the 
near-deserted campus. His legs 
still felt heavy and he assumed 
Superior was still rising. It cer- 
tainly seemed to be getting in- 
creasingly colder. 

He wondered how high they 
were and whether it would snow. 
He hoped not. How high did 
you have to be before you got up 
where it didn’t snow any more? 
He had no idea. He did recall 
that Mount Everest was 29,000 



28 



INFINITY 



feet up and that it snowed up 
there. Or would it be doivn 
there, relatively speaking? How 
high could they be, and didn’t 
anybody care? 

The frosty old receptionist 
seemed to be typical in her busi- 
ness-as-usual, come-what-may at- 
titude. Even Ed Clark didn’t 
seem as concerned as he ought to 
be about Superior’s ascent into 
the stratosphere. Clark was inter- 
ested, certainly, but he’d given 
Don the impression that he was 
no more curious than he would 
be about any other phenomenon 
he’d write about in next week’s 
paper — a two-headed calf, for in- 
stance. 

Don remembered now that the 
conquerors of Everest had needed 
oxygen in the rarified atmosphere 
near the summit and he experi- 
mentally took a couple of deep 
breaths. No difficulty. Therefore 
they weren’t 29,000 feet up — 
yet. Small comfort, he thought as 
he shivered again. 

He picked out a building at 
random. Classes were in session 
behind the closed but window^ed 
doors along the hall. From the 
third door he saw Alis Caret, sit- 
ting at the back of one of the 
small classrooms. Her attention 
had wandered from the instruc- 
tor and when she saw Don she 
smiled and beckoned. He hesitat- 
ed, then opened the door and 
w'ent in as quietly as he could. 
'Tlie instructor paused briefly, 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



nodded, then w^ent back to a 
droning lecture. It seemed to be 
an English literature class. 

Alis cleared some books off a 
chair next to her and Don sat 
down. "Who turned you loose?’’ 
she whispered. 

He realized she was referring 
to his de-handcuffed wrist and 
grinned, indicating that he’d tell 
her later. 

"I see you’ve been outfitted 
for our new climate,’’ she w'ent 
on. A student in the row of 
chairs ahead turned and frown- 
ed. The instructor talked on, 
oblivious. 

Don nodded and said, "Shh.” 

"Don’t let them intimidate 
you. Did you see the planes?’’ 

More students were turning 
and glaring and Don’s embar- 
rassment grew. "Come on,’’ he 
said. "Let’s cut this class.’’ 

"Bravo!” she said. "Spoken 
like a true Cavalier.” 

She gathered up her books. 
The instructor, without inter- 
rupting his lecture, followed 
them with his eyes as they left 
the roorri. "Now I’ll never know 
whether the young princess got 
out of the tower alive,” she said. 

"They didn’t. The question is, 
will we?” 

"I certainly hope so. I’ll have 
to speak to Father about it.” 

"He’s locked up in his lab, 
they tell me. Where would that 
be?” 

"In the tower, as a matter of 

2? 



fact. Tlie bell tower that the 
founding fathers built and then 
didn’t have enough money to buy 
bells for. But you can’t go up 
there — it’s the holy of holies.” 

"Can you?” 

"No. Why? You don’t think 
Father is making all this happen, 
do you?” 

"Somebody is. Professor Caret 
seems as good a suspect as any.” 

"Oh, he likes to act mys- 
terious, but it’s all an act. Poor 
old Father is just a crackpot 
theorist. I told you that. Fie 
couldn’t pick up steel filings with 
a magnet.” 

"I wonder. Look, somebody’s 
called a meeting for us outsiders 
from the train at two o’clock. It’s 
almost that now. Maybe I’ll 
have a chance to ask some ques- 
tions. Will your father be 
there?” 

“I’m sure he will. Fle’s a great 
meeting-caller. I’ll go with you. 
And, since you have two free 
hands now, you can hold my 
books. Maybe later you’ll get a 
chance to hold me.” 

Among the people sitting 
around the bare tables in the din- 
ing room Don recognized the 
conductor and other trainmen, 
two stocky individuals who had 
the loc^ of traveling salesmen, 
an elderly couple who held 
hands, a young couple with a 
baby, two nuns, a soldier appar- 
ently going or returning from 



furlough and a tall, hawk-nosed 
man Don classified on no evi- 
dence at all as a Shakespearean 
actor. All had been on the train. 
He didn’t see Geneva Jervis any- 
where. 

An improvised speakers’ table 
had been set up at one end of the 
room, near the door to the 
kitchen. A heavy-set man sat at 
the table talking to Mrs. Caret, 
the professor’s wife. 

"The stoutish gentleman next 
to Mother is the president of 
Cavalier,” Alis said. "Maynard 
Rubach. When you talk to him 
be sure to call him Doctor Ru- 
bach. He’s not a Ph.D. and he’s 
sensitive about it, but he did used 
to be a veterinarian.” 

They sat down near the big 
table and Mrs. Caret smiled and 
waved at them. Mayor Civek 
came in through the kitchen 
door, licking a finger as if he’d 
been sampling something on the 
way, and sat next to Mrs. Caret. 

At that moment Don’s stom- 
ach gave a hop and he felt blood 
rushing to his head. Others also 
had pained or nauseous looks. 

"Ugh,” Alis said. "Now 
what?” 

"I’d guess,” Don said w'hen 
his stomach had settled back in 
place, "that we’ve stopped ris- 
ing.” 

“You mean we’ve gone as 
high as we’re going to go?” 

“I hope so. We’d run out of 
air if we went much higher.” 



30 



INFINiTY 



Professor Caret came in pres- 
ently, looking pleased with him- 
self. He nodded to his wife and 
the men next to her and cleared 
his throat as he looked out over 
the room. 

"Altitude 21,500 feet,” he an- 
nounced without preamble. "Tem- 
perature 16 degrees Fahrenheit. 
From here on out — ” he paused, 
repeated "out” and chuckled 
" — it’s going to be a bit chilly. 
Those of you who are inade- 
quately clothed will see my wife 
for extra garments. I believe you 
have been comfortably housed 
and fed. There will, of course, 
be no charge for these services 
while you are the guests of the 
Cavalier Institute of Applied 
Sciences. Thank you. I now pre- 
sent Mr. Hector Civek, the 
mayor of Superior, who will an- 
swer any other questions you 
may have.” 

Don looked at Alls, who 
shrugged. The conductor stood 
and opened a notebook which he 
consulted. "I have a few ques- 
tions, Mr. Mayor. These people 
have asked me to speak for 
them and there’s one question 
that outweighs all the others. 
That is — are you going to take 
us back to Earth? If so, when? 
And how?” 

Civek cleared his throat. He 
took a sip of water. "As for the 
first question — we certainly hope 
to take you and ourselves back to 
Earth. I can’t answer the others.” 



"You hope to?” 

"Earnestly. I turn blue easily 
myself and I’m as anxious as you 
are to get back. But when that 
will be depends entirely on cir- 
cumstances. Circumstances, uh, 
beyond my control.” 

"Who’s controlling them, 
then? Your friend with the 
whiskers?” 

Professor Caret smiled amia-. 
bly and patted his beard. The 
portly Maynard Rubach got up 
and Civek sat down. 

"I am Dr. Maynard Rubach, 
president of Cavalier. I must in- 
sist that in common decency we 
all refrain from personal refer- 
ences. Mr. Civek has done his 
best to give you an explanation 
but of course he is a layman and, 
while he has many excellent 
qualities, we cannot expect him 
to be conversant with the prin- 
ciples of science. I will therefore 
attempt to explain. 

"As you know, science has 
been aware for hundreds of 
years that the Earth is a giant 
magnet ...” 

Don saw Geneva Jervis. She 
was at the kitchen door beyond 
the speakers’ table. 

"... the isogenic and the iso- 
clinic ...” 

The red-haired Miss Jervds 
saw Don now and put her finger 
to her lips. 

". . . an ultimote, which is 
simultaneously an integral part 
of ...” 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



31 



Now THE REDHEAD was beck- 
oning to him urgently. He excus- 
ed himself to Alis, who frowned 
when she saw the other girl, then 
went back of the speakers’ table 
(". . . 1,257 tenescopes to the 
square centimeter . . .”) into the 
kitchen. Jen Jervis was by now 
at the far end of it, motioning 
him to hurry up. 

'Tve found something,” she 
said. She was wearing a shape- 
less fur coat, apparently bor- 
rowed. 

"What?” 

"Come on; you’ll see it.” 

"All right, but wdiy me?” 
"Aside from myself you seem 
to be the only one from the train 
w'ith any gumption. I know 
you’ve been spying around doing 
things while ever)-body else sat 
back and waited for deliverance. 
Though I can’t say I admire your 
choice of companions. That 
tawdr)' blonde — ” 

"Now, really. Miss Jervis!” 
"Tawny, then; sometimes I 
mix up my words.” 

"I’ll bet.” 

She led him out the back door 
and across the frozen ground 
past several buildings. They 
reached what once must have 
been an athletic field. 

"At the far end,” she said. 
"Come on.” 

"Where were you when your 
boyfriend and his daredevil aces 
came over?” 

"I saw them.” 



"Did they see you?” 

"None of your business.” He 
shrugged. They were at a section 
of the grandstand at the end of 
the field. Jen Jervis indicated a 
door and Don opened it. It led 
to a big room under the stands. 
"What does this remind you 
of?” she asked. 

Don looked blank. In the dim 
light he could see some plank- 
ing, a long-deflated football, an- 
cient peanut shells and an empty 
pint bottle. "I don’t know. 
What?” 

"Stagg Field? At the Univer- 
sity of Chicago? Under the 
stands where they first made an 
atomic pile work?” She looked 
at him with the air of an investi- 
gator hot on the scent. 

He shrugged. "Never been 
there. So what?” 

"It’s a pattern. This is where 
they’ve hidden their secret.” 

"It looks more like the place 
a co-ed and her boyfriends might 
go to have a little fun. In w'arm- 
er weather, of course.” 

"Oh!” she said. "You’re dis- 
gusting! Look over there.” 

He looked, wondering what 
made this young, attractive wom- 
an hypersensitive on the subject 
of sex. This was the second time 
she’d blazed up over nothing. 
What he saw wliere she pointed 
was a door at a 45-degree angle 
to the ground, set into a triangu- 
lar block of concrete. "Where 
does that go?” 



32 



INFINITY 



"Down,” she said as they 
walked toward it. "And there’s 
some machinery or something 
down there. I heard it. Or may- 
be I only felt the vibrations. It 
throbs, anyway.” 

"Probably the generator for 
the school’s lighting system. Did 
you go down and look?” 

"No.” 

"All right, then.” He opened 
the door. "Down we go.” 

At the bottom of a flight of 
steps there was a corridor lit by 
dim electric light bulbs along 
one wall. The corridor became a 
tunnel, sloping gradually down- 
ward. They had been going 
north, Don judged, but then the 
tunnel made a right turn and 
now they were following it due 
east. "} don’t hear any throb- 
bing,” he said. 

"Well, I did, and from way 
up here. They must have turned 
it off.” 

"How long ago was that?” 
"An hour, maybe.” 

"While we were still rising. 
That would make sense. We’ve 
stopped again, you know. Pro- 
fessor Caret gave us a bulletin 
on it.” 

He had been going ahead of 
her in the narrow tunnel. Now 
it widened and they were able 
to walk side by side. There 
seemed to be no end to it. But 
then they came to a sturdy-look- 
ing door, padlocked. 

"That’s that,” Don said. 



"That’s that nothing,” she 
said. "Break it down.” 

He laughed. "You flatter me. 
Come on back.” 

"Don’t you think this is at all 
peculiar? A tunnel starting un- 
der an abandoned grandstand, 
running all this way and ending 
in a locked door?” 

"Maybe this was a station on 
the underground railway. It 
looks old enough.” 

"We’re going through that 
door.” She opened her purse and 
took out a key ring. On it was 
an extensive collection of keys. 
Eventually she found one that 
opened the padlock. 

"Well!” he said. "Who taught 
you that?” 

"Open the door.” 

The corridor beyond the door 
was lined — walls, ceiling and 
floor — with a silvery metal. It 
continued east a hundred yards 
or so, swung north and then went 
east again, widening all the time. 

It ended in a great room 
whose far wall was glass or some 
equally transparent substance. 
The room was a huge observa- 
tory at the end of Superior but 
below its rim. They could look 
down from it, not without a 
touch of nausea, to the Earth 
four miles below. 

Don, thinking of the surface 
of Superior above, thought it was 
as if they were looking out of 
the gondola slung beneath a 
dirigible. 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



33 



Or from one of the lower 
portholes in a giant flying 
saucer. 

CHAPTER IX 

T here were clouds below that 
occasionally hid the Earth 
from sight. For a minute or more 
they gazed in silence at the mag- 
nificent view. 

"This wasn’t built in a day,” 
Jen Jervis said at last. 

"I should say not,” Don 
agreed. "Millions of years.” 

She looked at him sharply. "I 
wasn’t talking about the age of 
the Earth. I mean this room — 
this lookout post — whatever it 
is.” 

He grinned at her. "I agree 
with you there, too. I’m really a 
very agreeable fellow. Miss Jer- 
vis. Obviously whoever built it 
knew well in advance that Su- 
perior was going to take off. They 
also knew how much of it was 
going up and exactly where this 
would have to be built so it 
would be at the edge.” 

"Under the edge, you mean, 
with a downward view.” 

"That’s right. From a distance 
I’d say Superior looked as if 
someone had cut the end off an 
orange. The flat part — where the 
cut was made — is the surface and 
we’re looking out from a piece 
of the convex skin.” 

"You put things so simply, 
Mr. Cort, that even a child 



could understand,” she said 
acidly. 

"Thank you,” he said compla- 
cently. He had remembered that 
whoever was listening in for 
military intelligence through the 
tiny radio under his shirt could 
have only a vague idea of what 
was going on. Any little word 
pictures he could supply, there- 
fore, would help them under- 
stand. He had to risk the fact 
that his companion might think 
him a bit of an idiot. 

Of course with this Geneva 
Jervis it was easy to lay himself 
open to the scathing comment 
and the barbed retort. He imag- 
ined she was extremely useful in 
her role as Girl Friday to Sena- 
tor Bobby Thebold. 

"I don’t think this is the work 
of those boobies at the booby 
hatch,” she was saying. 

"I beg your pardon?” 

"The Cavalier Institution of 
Applied Foolishness, whatever 
they call it. They just wouldn’t 
be capable of an undertaking of 
this scope.” 

"Oh, I agree. That’s why I let 
you drag me away from the 
meeting. It was a lot of pseudo- 
scientific malarky. Old Doc Ru- 
bach, D.V.M., was going on 
about bhe ultimote being con- 
necka to the thighbone, way up 
in the middle of the air. Tell me, 
who do you think is behind it 
all?” 

She was walking around the 



34 



INFINITY 




35 



big glass-sided room as if taking 
mental inventory. There wasn’t 
much to catalogue — six straight 
chairs, heavy and modern-look- 
ing, with a large wooden table, 
a framed piece of dark glass that 
might be a television set, and a 
gray steel box about the size and 
shape of a three-drawer filing 
cabinet. This last was near the 
big wall-window and had three 
black buttons on its otherwise 
smooth top. Don itched to push 
the buttons to see what would 
happen. Jen Jervis seemed to 
have the same urge. She drum- 
med on the box with her long 
fingernails. 

'T?” she said. "Behind it all?” 

"Yes. What’s your theory? Is 
this something for the Un-Earth- 
ly Activities Committee to inves- 
tigate?” 

"Don’t be impertinent. If the 
Senator thinks it’s his duty to 
look into it, he will. He undoubt- 
edly is already. In the meantime 
I can do no less than gather 
whatever information I can, 
while I’m on the scene.” 

"Very patriotic. What do you 
conclude from your information- 
gathering so far?” 

"Obviously there’s some kind 
of conspiracy ...” she began, 
then stopped as if she suspected 
a trap. 

"... afoot,” Don said with a 
grin. "As I see it, all you do is 
have Bobby the Bold subpoena 
everybody up here — every last 



man-jack of ’em — to testify be- 
fore his committee. They would- 
n’t dare refuse.” 

"I don’t find you a bit amus- 
ing, Mr. Cort, though I have no 
doubt this sophomoric humor 
makes a big hit with your teen- 
age blonde. We’d better get back. 
I can see it was a mistake to ex- 
pect any cooperation from you.” 
"As you like, Madame Inves- 
tigator.” Don gave her a mock 
bow, then turned for a last look 
down at the vast segment of 
Earth below. 

Geneva Jervis screamed. 

He whirled to see her stand- 
ing, big-eyed and open-mouthed, 
in front of the framed dark glass 
he had taken for a television 
screen. Her face was contorted in 
horror and as Don’s gaze flicked 
to the screen he had the barest 
glimpse of a pair of eyes fading 
with a dissolving image. Then 
the screen was blank and Don 
wasn’t sure whether there had 
been a face to go with the eyes — 
an inhuman, unearthly face — or 
whether his imagination had 
supplied it. 

The girl slumped to the floor 
in a faint. 

CHAl*TEK X 

C OLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 1 
(AP) — Sen. Robert (Bob- 
by) Thebold landed here today 
after leading his Private Pilots 
(PP) squadron of P- 38 s on a 



34 



INFINITY 



reconnaissance flight which re- 
sulted in the loss of one of the 
six World War II fighters in a 
crash landing on the mysterious- 
ly airborne town of Superior, 
Ohio. The pilot of the crashed 
plane parachuted safely to Earth. 

Sen. Thebold told reporters 
grimly: 

"There is no doubt in my 
mind that mysterious forces are 
at work when a town of 3,000 
population can rise in a body off 
the face of the Earth. My recon- 
naissance has shown conclusively 
that the town is intact and its in- 
habitants alive. On one of my 
passes I saw my secretary. Miss 
Geneva Jervis.” 

Sen. Thebold said he was con- 
fident Miss Jervis would contact 
him the moment she had any- 
thing to report, indicating she 
would make an on-the-spot in- 
vestigation. 

The Senator said in reply to a 
question that he was "amazed” 
at official Washington’s "com- 
plete inaction” in the matter and 
declared he would demand a 
probe by the Senate Investiga- 
tions Subcommittee, of which he 
is a member. He indicated wit- 
nesses might include officials of 
the Defense Department, the 
Central Intelligence Agency and 
"possibly others.” 

Ladenburg, Ohio, Nov. l 
(INS) — Little Ladenburg, for- 
mer neighbor of "The City in 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



the Sky,” complained today of a 
rain of empty beer cans and oth- 
er rubbish, apparently being 
tossed over the edge by residents 
of airborne Superior. 

"They’re not so high and 
mighty,” one sanitation official 
here said, "that they can make 
Ladenburg their garbage dump.” 

Washington, Nov. 1 (Reu- 
ters) — American officials today 
were at a loss to explain the 
strange behaviour of Superior, 
Ohio, "the town that took off.” 

Authoritative sources assured 
Reuters that no military or scien- 
tific experirrtents were in prog- 
ress which could account for the 
phenomenon of a town being 
lifted intact thousands of feet 
into the air. 

Rumours circulating to the ef- 
fect that a "Communist plot” 
was at work were greeted with 
extreme scepticism in official 
quarters. 

Washington, Novembre 
(AFP) — Les fitats-Unis sont au- 
jourd’hui le siege d’un phenom- 
ene digne d’un roman de Jules 
Verne. La petite ville de Supe- 
rior, dans rOhio, s’est detachee 
du reste du pays et se trouve sus- 
pendue dans les airs, sans aucun 
support, a plusieurs milliers de 
metres au-dessus de son site 
primtif. 

Cet evenement mysterieux 
reste sans explication de la part 

37 



dii departement de la defense, de 
la Commission de I’Energie 
Atomique ou de toute autre 
source gouvernementale. 

"Ne me demandez pas d’ex- 
plication,” a declare id un per- 
sonage officiel. "Cest inouie!” 

Bulletin 

Columbus, Ohio, Nov. l 
(UP) — ^The airborne town of 
Superior began to drift east 
across Ohio late today. 

CHAPTER XI 

T he unconscious Geneva Jer- 
vis, lying crumpled up in the 
oversized fur coat, was the im- 
mediate problem. Don Cort 
straightened her out so she lay 
on her back, took off her shoes 
and propped her ankles on the 
lower rung of a chair. He found 
she was wearing a belt and loos- 
ened it. It was obvious that she 
was also wearing a girdle but 
there wasn’t anything he wanted 
to do about that. He was rubbing 
one of her wrists when her eyes 
fluttered open. 

She smiled self-consciously. "I 
guess I was a sissy.” 

"Not at all. I saw it, too. A 
pair of eyes.” 

"And a face! A horrible, hor- 
rible face.” 

"I wasn’t sure about the face. 
Can you describe it?” 

She darted a tentative look at 
the screen but it was comforting- 



ly blank. "It wasn’t human. And 
it was staring right into me. It 
was awful!” 

"Did it have a nose, ears, 
mouth?” 

"I — I can’t be sure. Let’s get 
out of here. I’m all right now. 
Thanks for being so good to me 
—Don.” 

"Don’t mention it — ^Jen. Here, 
put your shoes on.” 

When he had closed the big 
wooden door behind them Don 
padlocked it again, to leave 
things as they’d found them, 
even though their visit to the ob- 
servation room was no longer a 
secret. 

He was relieved when they 
had scrambled up the steps un- 
der the grandstand. There had 
been no sense of anyone or any- 
thing following them or spying 
on them during their long walk 
through the tunnel. 

They were silent with their 
separate thoughts as they crossed 
the frosty ground and Jen held 
Don’s arm, more for companion- 
ship than support. At the cam- 
pus the girl excused herself, say- 
ing she still felt shaky and 
wanted to rest in her room. Don 
went back to the dining room. 

The meeting was over but 
Alis Caret was there, having a 
cup of tea and reading a book. 

"Well, sir,” she said, giving 
him an intent look, "how was 
the rendezvous?” 

"Fair to middling.” He was 



33 



INFINITY 



relieved to see that she wasn’t 
angry. “Did anybody say any- 
thing while I was gone?” 

"Not a coherent word. You 
don’t deserve it but I made notes 
for you. Running off with that 
redhead when you have a per- 
fectly adequate blonde. Did you 
kiss her?” 

"Of course not. It was strictly 
business. Let me see the notes, 
you angel.” 

"Notes, then.” She handed 
over a wad of paper. 

“Rubach,” he read: "Magnol- 
ogy stuff stuff stuff etc etc. Noth- 
ing. 

"Q. (Conductor Jas Brown) 
What abt Mayor’s proclamation 
Superior seceded frm Earth? 

"A. (Civek) repeated stuff 
abt discrimination agnst Spr & 
Cavlr & bubl gum prices. 

"Q. What u xpct gain? 

"A. Stuff abt end discrimina- 
tion. 

"Q. Sovereignty? 

"A. How’s that? 

"Q. R u trying set up Spr as 
separate city-state w/govt inde- 
pendent of U S or Earth?’* 
("That Conductor Brown is 
sharper than I gave him credit 
for,” Alis elaborated.) 

"A. Hem & haw. Well, now. 

"Q. Well, r u? 

"A. ( Father, rescuing Civek : ) 
Q of sovereignty must remain 
temporarily up in air. Laughter 
(Father’s). When & if Spr re- 
turns wil acpt state-fed laws as 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



b4 but meantime circs warrant 
adapt to prevailing conditions. 

"Rest of mtg was abt sleeping 
arangmnts, meals, recreation 
privileges, clothing etc.” 

Don folded the notes and put 
them in his pocket. "Thanks. I 
see I didn’t miss much. The only 
thing it seems to add is that 
Mayor Civek is a figurehead and 
that if the Cavalier people know 
anything they’re not talking, ex- 
cept in gobbledygook.” 

"Check,” Alis said. "Now let’s 
go take a look at Pittsburgh.” 

"Pittsburgh?” 

"That’s where we are now. 
One of the students who lives 
there peeped over the Edge a 
while ago. I was waiting for you 
to come back before I went to 
have a look.” 

"Pittsburgh?” Don repeated. 
"You mean Superior’s drifting 
across the United States?” 

"Either that or it’s being 
pushed. Let’s go see.” 

There hadn’t been much to 
see and it had been too cold to 
watch for long. The lights of 
Pittsburgh were beginning to go 
on in the dusk and the city look- 
ed pretty and far away. A Penn- 
sylvania Air National Guard 
plane came up to investigate, but 
from a respectful distance. 'Then 
it flew off. 

Don left Alis, shivering, at 
her door and decided he wanted 
a drink. He remembered having 

37 



seen a sign, Club Lyric, down the 
street from the Sentry office and 
he headed for it. 

"Sergeant Cort,” said a muf- 
fled voice under his collar. 

Don jumped. He’d forgotten 
for the moment that he was a 
walking radio station. "Yes?” he 
said. 

"Reception has been excel- 
lent,” the voice said. It was no 
longer that of Captain Simmons. 
"You needn’t recapitulate. 
We’ve heard all your conversa- 
tions and feel we know as much 
as you do. You’ll have to admit 
it isn’t much.” 

"I’m afraid not. What do you 
want me to do now? Should I 
go back and investigate that un- 
derground room again? That 
seems to be the best lead so far.” 

"No. You’re just a bank mes- 
senger whose biggest concern 
was to safeguard the contents of 
the brief case. Now that tlie con- 
tents are presumably in the bank 
vault your official worries are 
over and, though you’re curious 
to know why Superior’s acting 
the way it is, you’re willing to 
let somebody else do something 
about it.” 

"But they saw me in the room. 
Those eyes, whatever they are. I 
had the feeling — well, that they 
weren’t human.” 

"Nonsense!” the voice from 
the Pentagon said. "An ordinary 
closed-circuit television hookup. 
Don’t let your imagination run 



away with you and above all 
don’t play spy. If they’re suspi- 
cious of anyone it will be of Ge- 
neva Jervis because of her con- 
nection with Senator Thebold. 
Where are you going now?” 
"Well, sir, I thought — that is, 
if there’s no objection — I’d go 
have a drink. See what flie 
townspeople are saying? 

"Good idea. Do that.” 

"What are they saying in 
Washington? Does anybody put 
any stock in this Magnology stuff 
of Professor Garet’s?” 

"Facts are being collated. 
There’s been no evaluation yet. 
You’ll hear from us again when 
there’s something to tell you. For 
now, Cort, carry on. You’re do- 
ing a splendid job.” 

The streets were cold, dark 
and deserted. The few street 
lights were feeble and the lights 
in houses and other buildings 
seemed dimmer than normal. A 
biting wind had sprung up and 
Don was glad when he saw the 
neon words Club Lyric ahead. 

The bartender greeted him 
cheerfully. "It ain’t a fit flight. 
What’ll it be?” 

Don decided on a straight 
shot, to start. "What’s going 
on?” he asked. "Where’s the old 
town going?” 

The bartender shrugged. "Let 
Civek worry about that. It’s what 
we pay him for, ain’t it?” 

"I suppose so. How’re you 
fixed for liquor? Big supply?” 



40 



INFINITY 



"Last a coupla weeks unless 
people start drinking more than 
usual. Beer’ll run out first.” 
"That’s right, I guess. But 
aren’t you worried about being 
up in die air like this?” 

The bartender shrugged 
again. "Not much I can do about 
it, is there? Going to have an- 
other shot?” 

"Mix it this time. A little 
soda. Is that the general attitude? 
Business as usual?” 

"I hear some business is pick- 
ing up. Lot of people buying 
winter clothes, for one thing, 
weather turning cold the way it 
did. Dabney Brothers — they run 
the coal and fuel oil company — 
got enough orders to keep them 
going night and day for at least 
a week.” 

"That’s fine. But when they 
eventually run out, like you, then 
what? Everybody freeze to 
death?” 

The bartender made a 
thoughtful face. "You got some- 
thing there. Oh, hello, Ed. Kinda 
brisk tonight.” 

It was Ed Clark, the newspa- 
perman. Clark nodded to the 
bartender, who began to mix him 
a martini. "Freeze the ears off a 
brass monkey,” Clark said, join- 
ing Don. "I have an extra pair of 
earmuffs if you’d like them.” 
"Thanks,” Don said, "but I 
think I’d better buy myself some 
winter clothes tomorrow and re- 
turn yours.” 



"Suit yourself. Planning to 
settle down here?” 

"I don’t seem to have much 
choice. Anything new at your 
end?” 

Clark lifted his brimming 
glass and took a sip. "Here’s to 
a mild winter. New? I guess you 
know we’re in Pennsylvania now 
arid not Ohio. Over Pennsyl- 
vania, I should say. Don’t ask me 
why, unless Hector Civek thinks 
Superior will get a better break, 
taxwise. ” 

"You think the mayor’s behind 
it all?” 



"He has his delusions of gran- 
deur, like a lot of people here. 
But I do think Hector knows 
more than he’s telling. Some of 
the merchants — mostly those 
whose business hasn’t benefitted 
by the cold wave — have called a 
meeting for tomorrow. They 
want to pump him.” 

"He wasn’t exactly a flowing 
spout at Cavalier this afternoon 
w'hen the people from the train 
w'anted answers.” 

"So that’s where he was. They 
couldn’t find him in his office at 
Town Hall.” 

"Where’s it all going to end? 
If we keep on drifting we’ll be 
over the Atlantic — next stop 
Europe. Then Superior will be 
crossing national boundaries in- 
stead of just state lines, and some 
country may decide we’re violat- 
ing its air space and shoot us out 
of the sky.” 



AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



41 



CHAPTER XII 



"I see you take the long view,” 
Clark said. 

"Is there any other?” Don 
asked. "The alternative is to kid 
ourselves that everything’s all 
right and trust in Providence and 
Hector Civek. What is it with 
you people? You don’t seem to 
realize that sixteen square miles 
of solid earth, and three thous- 
and people, have taken off to go 
waltzing through the sky. That 
isn’t just something that hap- 
pens. Something or somebody’s 
making it happen. The question 
is who or what, and what are you 
going to do about it?” 

The bartender said, "The 
boy’s right, Ed. How do we 
know they won’t take us up high- 
er — up where there’s no air? 
Then we’d be cooked.” 

Clark laughed. " 'Cooked’ is 
hardly the word. But I agree that 
things are getting out of hand.” 
He set down his glass with a 
clink. "I know the man we want. 
Old Doc Bendy. He could stir 
things up.” The bartender nod- 
ded. "Remember the time they 
tried to run the pipeline through 
town and Doc formed a citizens 
committee and stopped them?” 

"Stopped them dead,” the 
bartender recalled, then cleared 
his throat. "Speak of the devil.” 
He raised his voice and greeted 
the man who had just walked in. 

"Well, Doc. Long time since 
we’ve had the pleasure of your 
company. Nice to see you.” 



D oc Bendy was an imposing 
old gentleman of more than 
average height and magnificent 
girth. He carried a paunch with 
authority. His hands, at the ends 
of short arms, seemed to fall nat- 
urally to it and he patted the 
paunch with satisfaction as he 
spoke. He was dressed for the 
cold weather in an old frock coat, 
black turning green, with a dou- 
ble line of oversized buttons 
down the front and huge eight- 
eenth century lapels. He wore a 
battered black slouch hat which 
long ago had given up the pre- 
tense of holding any particular 
shape. 

"Salutations, gentlemen!” Doc 
Bendy boomed, striding majes- 
tically toward the bar. "They tell 
me our peripatetic little town has 
just passed Pittsburgh. I’d have 
thought it more likely we’d 
crossed the Artie Circle. Rum, 
bartender, is the only suitable 
potable for the occasion.” 

Clark introduced Don, who 
saw that close up Doc Bendy’s 
face was full and firm rather 
than fat. The nose had begun to 
develop the network of visible 
blood vessels which indicated a 
fondness for the bottle. Shaggy 
white eyebrows matched the 
fringe of white hair that sprout- 
ed from under the sides and back 
of the slouch hat. The eyes them- 
selves were alert and humorous. 



42 



INFINITY 



The mouth rose subtly at the cor- 
ners and, though Bendy never 
seemed to smile outright, it con- 
veyed the same humor as the 
eyes. These two features, in fact, 
saved the old man from seeming 
pompous. 

Don noticed that the rum the 
bartender poured for Bendy was 
151 proof and the portion was a 
generous one. 

Bendy raised his glass. "Your 
health, gentlemen.” He took a 
sip -and put it down. "I might 
also dririk to a happy voyage, 
destination unknown.” 

"Don here thinks we’re in 
danger of drifting over Europe.” 

"A distinct possibility,” Bendy 
said. "Your passports are in or- 
der, I trust? I remember the first 
time I went to the Continent. It 
was with Black Jack Pershing 
and the AEF.” 

"Were you in the medical 
corps, sir?” Don asked. 

Doc Bendy boomed with 
laughter, holding his paunch. 
"Bless your soul, lad. I’m no doc- 
tor. I was on the board of direc- 
tors of Superior’s first hospital, 
hence the title. A mere courtesy, 
conferred on me by a grateful 
citizenry.” 

"The citizens might be look- 
ing to you again, Doc,” Clark 
said, "since their elected repre- 
sentatives are letting them 
down.” 

"But not bringing them down, 
eh? Suppose you tell me what you 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



know, Mr. Editor. I assume 
you’re the best-informed man on 
the situation, barring the con- 
spirators who have dragged us 
aloft.” 

"You think it’s a conspiracy, 
then?” 

"It’s not an act of God.” 

Clark began to fill an ancient 
pipe, so well caked that the pen- 
cil with which Jbe tamped the 
tobacco barely fitted into the 
bowl. By the time the pipe was 
ready for a match he had ex- 
hausted the solid facts. He then 
told Doc Bendy what Don had 
told him. He was about to go 
further when the old man held 
up a hand. 

"The facts only, if you 
please. We’ll leave the fancy for 
your excellent editorial column. 
Mr. Cort, what you saw in the 
underground chamber fits in re- 
markably with something I stum- 
bled on this afternoon while I 
was skating.” 

"Skating?” Clark said. 

"Ice skating. At North Lake. 
It’s completely frozen over and 
I’m not so decrepit that I can’t 
glide on a pair of blades. Well, I 
was gliding along, humming the 
Skater’s Waltz, when I tripped 
over a stump. When I said I 
stumbled on something I was 
speaking literally, because I fell 
flat. While I lay there, with the 
breath knocked out of me, my 
face was only an inch from the 
ice and I realized I was eye-to- 



43 



eye with a thing. Just as you 
were, Mr. Cort.” 

"You mean there was some- 
thing under the ice?” 

"Exactly. Staring up at me. 
Balefully, I suppose you could 
say, as if it resented my pres- 
ence.” 

"Did you see the whole face?” 
"I’d be embroidering if I said 
yes. It seemed — But I must stick 
to the facts. I saw only the eyes. 
Two perfectly circular eyes, 
which glared at me for a mo- 
ment, then disappeared.” 

"It could have been a fish,” 
Clark said. 

"No. A fish is about the most 
expressionless thing there is, 
while these eyes had intelligence 
behind them. None of your 
empty fishy stares.” 

Clark knocked his pipe 
against the edge of the bar so 
the ashes fell in the vicinity of 
an old brass cuspidor. "So, since 
what you and Don saw were both 
under the surface, we could put 
two and two together and as- 
sume that some kind of alien be- 
ings have taken up residence in 
Superior’s lower levels?” 

"Only if you think two and 
t\Vo make five,” Doc Bendy said. 
"But even if they don’t, there’s 
a great deal more going on than 
Civek knows, or the Garet-Ru- 
bach crowd at Cavalier will ad- 
mit. It seems to me, gentlemen, 
that it’s time I set up a commit- 



CHAPTER XIII 

M ISS Leora Frisbie, spinster, 
was found dead in the 
mushroom cellar of her home on 
Ryder Avenue in the northeast- 
ern part of town. She had been 
sitting in a camp chair, bundled 
in heavy clothing, when she 
died. She had been subject to 
heart trouble and that fact, 
coupled with notes she had been 
making on a pad in her lap led 
the coroner to believe she had 
been frightened to death. 

The first entry on the pad 
said: Someone stealing my mush- 
rooms; must keep vigil. The 
notes continued: 

Sitting in chair near stairs. 
Single 60-iv. bulb dims, gravity 
increases. Superior rising again? 
Movement in corner — soil being 
pushed up from underneath. 
Hand. Hand? Claw! 

Claw withdraws. 

Head. Rat? No. Bigger. 
Human? No. But the eyes 
eyes ey — 

That was all. 

Photostatic copies of the late 
Miss Frisbie’s notes and the 
coroner’s report became Exhibits 
1 and 2 in Doc Bendy’s dossier. 

Exhibit 3 was a carbon copy 
of a report by the stock control 
clerk at the bubble gum factory. 

Bubble gum had been piling 
up in the warehouse on the rail- 
road siding back of Reilly 
Street. The stock control clerk. 



44 



INFINITY 



Armand Specht, was tal<ing in- 
ventory when he saw a move- 
ment at the far end of the ware- 
house. His report read; 

Investigated and found carton 
had been dislodged from top of 
pile and broken into. Gross of 
Cheeky brand missing. Saw 
something sitting ivith back to 
me opening package, stuffing 
gum into mouth, ivax paper and 
all, half dozen at time. Looked 
like overgroivn chimpanzee. It 
turned and saw me, continuing 
to chetu. Didn’t get clear look 
before it disappeared but noticed 
tivo things, one that its cheeks 
bulged out from chetuing so 
much gum at once and other that 
its eyes were round and bright, 
evert in dim corner. Then animal 
turned and disappeared behind 
pile of Cheekys. No chimpanzee. 
Didn’t follow right atvay but 
tvhen 1 did it was gone. 

Exhibit 4; 

Dear Diary: 

There tvasn’t any TV tonight 
and I asked Grandfather Bendy 
what to do and he said "Marie, 
tvhen I teas young, boys and girls 
made their otvn fun’’ and so I got 
out the Scrabble and asked Mom 
and Dad to play but they said no 
they had to go to the Warners 
and play bridge which I forgot. 
So they went and I was playing 
pretending I was both sides when 
the door opened and 1 said 
Hello Grandfather but it wasn’t 
him it was like a kangaroo and it 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



had big eyes that ivere friendly. 

After a while 1 ivent over and 
scratched its ears and it liked that 
and then it went over to the table 
and looked at the Scrabble. I 
thought wouldn’t it be funny if 
it could play but it couldn’t. But 
it could spell! It had hands like 
claws with long black fingernails 
and fur on them (the fingers) 
and it pushed the letters around 
so they spelled NAAIE and 1 
spelled out MARIE. 

Then 1 spelled out WHO ARE 
YOU and it spelled GIZL. 

Then I spelled HOW OLD 
ARE YOU and it put all the 
blank spaces together. 

I said WHERE DO YOU 
LIVE and it spelled HERE. Then 
I changed that to WHERE DO 
YOU COME FROM and it 
pointed to the blanks again. 

The gizl went away before 
Aiom and Dad came home and I 
didn’t tell them about it but I’ll 
tell Grandfather Bendy because 
he understands better about 
things like the time 1 had an in- 
vizible friend. 

CHAPTER XIV 

D on Cort went to bed in the 
dormitory at Cavalier with 
the surprised realization that it 
had been only 24 hours since Su- 
perior took off. It seemed more 
like a week. When he woke up 
tlie floating town was over New 
York. 



45 



Some high-flying sky\i'riters 
were at work. Welcome Su- 
perior Drink Pepsi-Cola, 
their message said. 

Don dressed quickly and hur- 
ried to the brink. Alis Caret was 
there among a little crowd, bun- 
dled up in a parka. 

"Is that the Hudson River?” 
she asked him. "Where’s the 
Empire State Building?” 

"Yes,” he said. "Haven’t you 
ever been to New York? I can’t 
quite make it out. It’s somewhere 
south of that patch of green — 
that’s Central Park.” 

"No; I’ve never been out of 
Ohio. I thought New York was 
a big city.” 

"It’s big enough. Don’t for- 
get we’re four miles up. Have 
you seen any planes besides the 
sky-writers?’’ 

"Just some airliners, way 
down,” she said. "Were you ex- 
pecting someone?” 

"Seeing how it’s our last port 
of call, I thought there might be 
some Federal boys flying 
around. I shouldn’t think they’d 
want a chunk of their real estate 
exported to Europe.” 

"Are we going to Europe?” 
"Bound to if we don’t change 
course.” 

"Why?” 

"My very next words were go- 
ing to be 'Don’t ask me why.’ I 
ask you. You’re closer to the 
horse’s mouth than I am.” 

"If you mean Father,” Alis 



said, "I told you I don’t enjoy 
his confidence.” 

"Haven’t you even got an 
inkling of what he’s up to?” 
"I’m sure he’s not the Master 
Mind, if that’s what you mean.” 
"Then who is? Rubach? Civek? 
The chief of police? Or - the 
bubble gum king, whoever he 
is?” 

"Cheeky McFerson?” She 
laughed. 'T went to grade 
school with him and if he’s got 
a mind I never noticed it.” 
"McFerson? He’s just a kid?” 
"His father died a couple of 
years ago and Cheeky’s the 
president on paper, but the busi- 
ness office runs things. We call 
him Cheeky because he always 
had a wad of company gum in 
his cheek. Supposed to be an ad- 
vertisement. But he never gave 
me any and I always chewed 
Wrigley’s for spite.” 

"Oh.” Don chewed the inside 
of his own cheek and watched 
the coastline. "That’s Connecti- 
cut now,” he said. "We’re cer- 
tainly not slowing down for 
Customs.” 

A speck, trailing vapor 
through the cold upper air, head- 
ed toward them from the gen- 
eral direction of New England. 
As it came closer Don saw that 
it was a B-58 Hustler bomber. 
He recognized it by the mys- 
terious pod it carried under its 
body, three-quarters as long as 
the fuselage. 



46 



INFINITY 



"It’s not going to shoot us 
down, is it?" Alis asked. 

"Hardly. I’m glad to see it. 
It’s about time somebody took an 
interest in us besides Bobby The- 
bold and his leftover Light- 
nings.” 

The B-58 rapidly dosed the 
last few miles between them, 
banked and drded Superior. 

"Attention people of Supe- 
rior,’’ a voice from the plane 
said. The magnified words reach- 
ed them distinctly through the 
cold air. "Inasmuch as you are 
now leaving the continental 
United States, tliis aircraft- has 
been assigned to accompany you. 
From this point on you are un- 
der the protection of the United 
States Air Force.” 

"That’s better,” Don said. 
"It’s not much, but at least some- 
body’s doing something.” 

The B-58 streaked off and 
took up a course in a vast circle 
around them. 

"I’m not so sure I like having 
it around,” Alis said. "I mean 
suppose they find out that Su- 
perior’s conirolled by — I don’t 
know — let’s say a foreign power, 
or an alien race. Once we’re out 
over the Atlantic where nobody 
else could get hurt wouldn’t they 
maybe consider it a small sacri- 
fice to wipe out Superior to get 
rid of the — the alien?” 

Don looked at her closely. 
"What’s this about an alien? 
What do you know?” 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



"I don’t know anything. It’s 
just a feeling I have, that this is 
bigger than Father and Mayor 
Civek and all the self-important 
VIPs in Superior put together.” 
She squeezed his arm as if to 
draw comfort from him. "Maybe 
it’s seeing the ocean and realiz- 
ing the vastness of it, but for the 
first time I’m beginning to feel 
a little scared.” 

"I won’t say there’s nothing 
to be afraid of,” Don said. He 
pulled her hand through his 
arm. "It isn’t as though this were 
a precedented situation. But 
whatever’ s going on, remember 
there are some pretty good peo- 
ple on our side, too.” 

"I know,” she said. "And 
you’re one of them.” 

He wondered what she meant 
by that. Nothing, probably, ex- 
cept "Thank you for the reassur- 
ance.” He decided that was it; 
the mechanical eavesdropper he 
wore under his collar was mak- 
ing him too self-conscious. He 
tried to think of something ap- 
propriate to say to her that he 
wouldn’t mind having overheard 
in the Pentagon. 

Nothing occurred to him, so 
he drew Alis closer and gave her 
a quick, quiet kiss. 

The crowd of people looking 
out over the Edge had grown. 
Judging by their number, few 
people were in school or at their 
jobs today. Yesterday they had 



47 



seemed only mildly interested in 
what their town was up to but 
today, with the North American 
continent about to be left behind, 
they were paying more attention. 
Yet Don could see no signs of 
alarm on their faces. At most 
there was a reflection of wonder, 
but not much more than there 
might be among a group of Euro- 
peans seeing New York harbor 
from shipboard for the first 
time. An apathetic bunch, he de- 
cided, who would be resigned to 
their situation so long as the 
usual pattern of tlieir lives was 
not interfered with unduly. What 
they lacked, of course, was lead- 
ership. 

"It’s big,, isn’t it?’’ Alis said. 
She was looking at the Atlantic, 
which was virtually the only 
thing left to see except the 
bright blue sky, a strip of the 
New England coast and the cir- 
cling bomber. 

"It’s going to get bigger,’’ Don 
said. "Shall we go across town 
and take a last look at the 
States?’’ He also wanted to see 
what, if anything, was going on 
in town. 

"Not the last, I hope. I’d pre- 
fer a round trip.” 

An enterprising cab driver 
opened his door for them. "Spe- 
cial excursion rate to the West 
End,” he said; "one buck.” 

"You’re on,” Don said. 
"How’s business?” 

"Not what you’d call boom- 



ing. No trains to meet. No buses. 
Hi, Alis. This isn’t one of your 
fatlier’s brainstorms come to life, 
is it?” 

"Hi, Chuck,” she said. "I se- 
riously doubt it, though I’m sure 
you’d never get him to admit it. 
How are your wife and the 
boy?” 

"Fine. That boy, he’s got 
some imagination. He’s digging 
a hole in the backyard. Last week 
he told us he was getting close to 
China. Today’s it’s Australia. He 
said at supper last night that they 
must have heard about his hole 
and started digging from the 
other end. They’ve connected 
up, according to him, and he had 
quite a conversation with a kan- 
garoo.” 

"A kangaroo?” Don sat up 
straight. 

"Yeah. You know how kids 
are. I guess he’s studying Aus- 
tralia in geography.” 

"What did the kangaroo tell 
your son?” 

The cab driver laughed de- 
fensively. "There’s nothing 
wrong with the boy. He’s just 
got an active mind.” 

"Of course. When I was a kid 
I used to talk to bears. But what 
did he say the kangaroo talked 
about?” 

"Oh, just crazy stuff — I mean 
imaginative stuff — like the kan- 
garoos didn’t like it Down Un- 
der any more and were coming 
up here because it was safer.” 



48 



INFINITY 



CHAPTER XV 

L ater that morning, at 
about the time Don Cort 
estimated that Superior had 
passed the twelve-mile limit — 
east from the coast, not up — the 
Superior State Bank was held up. 

A man clearly recognized as 
Joe Negus, a small-time gam- 
bler, and one other man had 
driven up to the bank in Negus’s 
flashy Buick convertible. They 
walked up to the head teller, 
threatened him with pistols and 
demanded all the money in all 
the tills. They stuffed the bills in 
a sack, got into their car and 
drove off. They took nothing 
from the customers and made no 
attempt to take anything from 
the vault. 

The fact that they ignored the 
vault made Don feel better. He 
thought when he first , heard 
about the robbery that the men 
might have been after the hand- 
cuff brief case he’d stored there, 
which would have meant he was 
under suspicion. But apparently 
the job was a genuine heist, not 
a cover-up for something else. 

Police Chief "Vincent Grande 
reached the scene half an hour 
after the criminals left it. His 
car had frozen up and wouldn’t 
start. He arrived by taxi, red- 
faced, fingering the butt of his 
bolstered service automatic. 

Negus and his confederate, 
identified as a poolroom lounger 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



named Hank Stacy, had got away 
with a hundred thousand dol- 
lars. 

"I didn’t know there was that 
much money in town,” was 
Grande’s comment on that. 
While he was asking other ques- 
tions the telephone rang and 
someone told the bank president 
he’d seen Negus and Stacy go 
into the poolroom. In fact, the 
robber«’ convertible was parked 
blatantly in front of the place. 

Grande, looking as if he’d 
rather be a dog catcher, got back 
into the taxi. 

Joe Negus and Hank Stacy 
were sitting on opposite sides of 
a pool table when the police 
chief got there, dividing the 
money in three piles. A third 
man stood by, watching closely. 
He was Jerry Lynch, a lawyer. 
He greeted Grande. 

"Morning, Vince,” he said 
easily. “Come to shoot a little 
pool.^” 

"I’ll shoot some bank robbers 
if they don’t hand over that 
money,” Grande said. He had his 
gun out and looked almost pur- 
poseful. 

Negus and Stacy made no at- 
tempt to go for their guns. Stacy 
seemed nervous but Negus went 
on counting the money without 
looking up. 

"Is it your money, Vince?” 
Jerry Lynch asked. 

"You know damn well whose 
money it is. Now let’s have it.” 

49 



'Tm afraid I couldn’t do that,” 
the lawyer said. "In the first 
place I wouldn’t want to, thirty- 
three and a third per cent of it 
being mine, and in the second 
place you have no authority.” 
"I’m the chief of police,” 
Grande said doggedly. "I don’t 
want to spill any blood — ” 
"Don’t flash your badge at me, 
Vince,” Lynch said. Negus had 
finished counting the money and 
the lawyer took one of the piles 
and put it in various pockets. "I 
said you had no authority. Bank 
robbery is a federal offense. Not 
that I admit there’s been a rob- 
bery. But if you suspect a crime 
it’s your duty to go to the proper 
authorities. 'The FBI would be in- 
dicated, if you know where they 
can be reached.” 

"Yeah,” Joe Negus said. "Go 
take a flying jump for yourself. 
Chief.” 

"Listen, you cheap crook — ” 
"Hardly cheap, Vince,” Lynch 
said. "And not even a crook, in 
my professional opinion. Mr. 
Negus pleads extraterritoriality.” 



That was the start of Supe- 
rior’s crime wave. 

Somebody broke the plate glass 
window of George Tocher’s dry 
goods store and got a^^'ay with 
blankets, half a dozen overcoats 
and several sets of woolen under- 
wear. 

A fuel oil truck disappeared 
from the street outside of Dab- 



ney Brothers’ and was found 
abandoned in the morning. 
About nine hundred gallons had 
been drained out — as if someone 
had filled his cellar tank and a 
couple of his neighbors’. 

The back door of the super- 
market was forced and somebody 
made off with a variety of gro- 
ceries. The missing goods would 
have just about filled one car. 

Each of these crimes was un- 
derstandable — Superior’s grow- 
ing food and fuel shortage and 
icy temperatures had led a few 
people to desperation. 

But there were other inci- 
dents. Somebody smashed the 
window at Kimbrough’s Jewelry 
Store and snatched a display of 
medium-priced watches. 

Half a dozen young vandals 
sneaked into the Catholic Church 
and began toppling statues of the 
saints. When they were surprised 
by Father Brian they fled, bom- 
barding him with prayer books. 
One of the books shattered a 
stained glass window depicting 
Christ dispensing loaves and 
fishes. 

Somebody started a fire in the 
movie house balcony and nearly 
caused a panic. 

Vincent Grande rushed from 
place to place, investigating, but 
rarely learned enough to make 
an arrest. The situation was be- 
coming unpleasant. Superior had 
always been a friendly place to 
live, where everyone knew every- 



50 



INFINITY 



one else, at least to say hello to, 
but now there was suspicion and 
fear, not to mention increasing 
cold and threatened famine. 

Everyone was cheered up, 
therefore, when Mayor Hector 
Civek announced a mass meeting 
in Town Square. Bonfires were 
lit and the reviewing stand that 
was used for the annual Found- 
ers’ Day parade was hauled out 
as a speakers’ platform. 

Civek was late. The crowd, 
bundled up against the cold, was 
stamping its feet and beginning 
to shout a bit when he arrived. 
There was a medium-sized cheer 
as the mayor climbed the plat- 
form. 

"Fellow citizens,” he began, 
then stopped to search through 
his overcoat pockets. 

"Well,” he went on, "I guess 
I put the speech in an inside 
pocket and it’s too cold to look 
for it. I know what it says, any- 
way. ” 

This brought a few laughs. 
Don Cort stood near the edge of 
the crowd and watched the peo- 
ple around him. They mostly 
had a no-nonsense look about 
them — as if they were not going 
to be satisfied with mere oratory. 

Civek said; "I’m not going to 
keep you standing in the cold and 
tell you what you already know — 
how our food supplies are 
dwindling, how we’re using up 
our stocks of coal and fuel oil 

AND THEN THE TOWN TOOK OFF 



with no immediate hope of re- 
placement — you know all that.” 
"We sure do. Hector,” some- 
body called out. 

"Yes; so, as I say. I’m not go- 
ing to talk about what the prob- 
lem is. We don’t need words — 
we need action.” 

He paused as if he expected a 
cheer, or applause, but the crowd 
merely stood and waited for him 
to go on. 

"If Superior had been hit by 
a flood or a tornado,” Civek said, 
"we could look to the Red Cross 
and the state or federal govern- 
ment for help. But we’ve been 
the victims of a far greater mis- 
fortune — torn from the bosom of 
Mother Earth and flung — ” 

"Oh, come on. Hector,” an old 
woman said. "We’re getting 
froze.” 

"I’m sorry about that, Mrs. 
Potts,” Civek said. "You should 
be home where it’s warm.” 

"We ran out of coal for the 
furnace and now we’re running 
out of logs. Are you going to do 
something about that?” 

"I’ll tell you what I’m going 
to do, Mrs. Potts, for you and all 
the other wonderful people here 
tonight. 

"We’re going to put a stop to 
this lawlessness we never had be- 
fore. We’re going to make Su- 
perior a place to be proud of. 
Superior has changed — risen, you 
might say — to a new status. 
We’re more than a town, now. 

51 



We’re free and separate not only 
from Ohio but from the United 
States. 

"We’re a sovereign place, 
a — a sovereignty — and we need 
new methods to cope with new 
conditions — to restore law and 
order — to see that all our sub- 
jects — our citizen-subjects — are 
provided for.” 

The crowd had become hushed 
as Civek neared his point. 

"To that end,” Civek went 
on, " — to that noble end I dedi- 
cate myself and I take this mo- 
mentous step and hereby proclaim 
the existence of the Kingdom of 
Superior — ” he paused to take a 
deep breath " — and proclaim 
myself its first King.” 

He stopped. His oratory had 
carried him to a climax and he 
didn’t quite know where to go 
from there. Maybe he expected 
cheers to carry him over, but 
none came. There was complete 
silence except for the crackling 
of the bonfires. 

But after a moment there was 
a shuffling of feet and a whisper- 
ing that grew to a murmur. Then 
out of the murmur came derisive 
shouts and catcalls. 

"King Hector the First!” 
somebody hooted. "Long live the 
King!” 

The words could have been 



gratifying but the tone of voice 
was all wrong. 

"Where’s Hector’s crown.?” 
somebody else cried. "Hey, Jack, 
did you forget to bring the 
crown?” 

"Yeah,” Jack said. "I forgot. 
But I got a rope over on my 
truck. We could elevate him that 
way. ” 

Jack was obviously joking but 
a group of men in another part 
of the crowd pushed toward the 
platform. "Yeah,” one of them 
said, "let’s string him up.” 

A woman at the back of the 
crowd screamed. Two hairy fig- 
ures about five feet tall appeared 
from the darkness. They were 
kangaroo-like, with long tails. No 
one tried to stop them and the 
creatures reached the platform 
and pulled Hector down. They 
placed him between them and, 
their way clear now, began to 
hop away. 

Their hops grew longer as 
they reached the edge of the 
square. Their leaps had become 
prodigious as they disappeared in 
the direction of North Lake, 
Civek in his heavy coat looking 
almost like one of them. 

Don Cort couldn’t tell 
whether the creatures were kid- 
naping Civek or rescuing him. 

{To be concluded^ 



00 00 00 

The next Infinity goes on sole DEC. 26! 

52 INFINITY 



By the' editor 




S CIENCE FICTION IS not dead! 

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? I 
certainly feel silly about issuing 
such a proclamation — something 
like the way Jayne Mansfield 
might feel, perhaps, if she had 
to stand up and announce that 
sex is not dead. 

After all. Infinity is a sci- 
ence fiction magazine. It comes 
out regularly, and every issue 
contains science fiction. I happen 
to think it contains good science 
fiction. And, at the risk of plug- 
ging the competition, I might 
point out that science fiction is 
still being published in books 
and in other magazines, too — 
and some of isn’t bad, 

either. 

Lately, though, a number of 
people have been going around 
saying that science fiction is 
dead, or at least dying. And 
while some of these people are 
good friends of mine, I think 
they’re wrong. That’s right — 
dead wrong. 

It’s true, of course, that science 
fiction isn’t as young as it used 
to be. A lot of it has gone over 
the stands since the first special- 



ized sf magazine was published 
more than 30 years ago. Science 
fiction has developed and chang- 
ed during that time — and nobody 
could be expected to like all of 
the tilings that have happened 
to it. 

But it isn’t dead. 

It’s harder for a writer to find 
a really new idea today than it 
was 30 years ago. A lot of the 
basic (or primitive) ideas used 
then just wouldn’t be acceptable 
today. A lot of others have been 
used over and over again, until 
it’s hard to find ways to use them 
that won’t be over-familiar. 
More and more often, the new 
stories being published today are 
variations on old themes, instead 
of statements and developments of 
brand-new ones. 

But none of this proves that 
science fiction is dead. And no- 
body is going to prove that sci- 
ence fiction is dead, as long as 
there is so much of it being born 
every day. 

Is anything dead, then? Or are 
the people who keep pointing to 
the corpse of sf utterly befud- 
{Continued on page 124) 



BY THE EDITOR 



S3 




LENNY 

by ISAAC ASIMOV 




54 



U NITED States Robots and 
Mechanical Men, Inc., had 
a problem. The problem was 
people. 

Peter Bogert, Senior Mathema- 
tician, was on his w^ay to Assem- 
bly when he encountered Alfred 
Banning, Research Director. Ban- 
ning was bending his ferocious 
w'hite eyebrows together and star- 



ing dowm across the railing into 
the computer room. 

On the floor below the bal- 
cony, a trickle of humanity of 
both sexes and various ages was 
looking about curiously, w^hile a 
guide intoned a set speech about 
robotic computing. 

"This computer you see before 
you,” he said, "is the largest of 



Whaf's the use of a robot that eon perform 

no job at all, and may be dangerous to boot? 




55 



its type in the world. It contains 
five million three hundred Ihous- 
and cryostats and is capable of 
dealing simultaneously with over 
one hundred thousand variables. 
With its help, U. S. Robots is 
able to design with precision the 
positronic brains of new models. 

"The requirements are fed in 
on tape w'hich is perforated by 
the action of this keyboard — 
something like a very complicat- 
ed typev'riter or linotype ma- 
chine, except that it does not deal 
with letters but with concepts. 
Statements are broken dpwn into 
the symbolic logic equivalents 
and those in turn converted to 
perforation patterns. 

"The computer can, in less 
than one hour, present our scien- 
tists with a design for a brain 
which will give all the necessary 
positronic paths to make a ro- 
bot . . .” 

Alfred Lanning looked up at 
last and noticed the other. "Ah, 
Peter,” he said. 

Bogert raised both hands to 
smooth down his already perfect- 
ly smooth and glossy head of 
black hair. He said, "You don’t 
look as though you think much 
of this, Alfred.” 

Lanning grunted. The idea of 
public guided tours of U. S. Ro- 
bots was of fairly recent origin, 
and was supposed to serve a dual 
function. On the one hand, the 
theory went, it allowed people to 
see robots at close quarters and 



counter their almost instinctive 
fear of the mechanical objects 
through increased familiarity. 
And on the other hand, it was 
supposed to interest at least an 
occasional person in taking up 
robotics research as a life work. 

"You know I don’t,” Lanning 
said finally. "Once a week, work 
is disrupted. Considering the 
man-hours lost, the return is in- 
sufficient.” 

"Still no rise in job applica- 
tions, then?” 

"Oh, some, but only in the 
categories where the need isn’t 
vital. It’s research men that are 
needed. You know that. The 
trouble is that with robots for- 
bidden on Earth itself, there’s 
something unpopular about be- 
ing a roboticist.” 

"The damned Frankenstein 
complex,” said Bogert, con- 
sciously imitating one of the oth- 
er’s pet phrases. 

Lanning missed the gentle 
jab. He said, "I ought to be used 
to it, but I never will. You’d 
think that by now every human 
being on Earth would know that 
the Three Laws represented a 
perfect safeguard; that robots are 
simply not dangerous. Take this 
bunch.” He glowered down. 
"Look at them. Most of them go 
through the robot assembly room 
for the thrill of fear, like riding 
a roller coaster. Then when they 
enter the room with the MEC 
model — damn it, Peter, a MEC 



56 



INFINITY 



model that will do nothing on 
God’s green Earth but take two 
steps forward, say 'Pleased to 
meet you, sir,’ shake hands, then 
take two steps back — they back 
away and mothers snatch up their 
kids. How do we expect to get 
brainwork out of such idiots?” 

Bogert had no answer. To- 
gether, they stared down once 
again at the line of sightseers, 
now passing out of the computer 
room and into the positronic 
brain assembly section. Then 
they left. They did not, as it 
turned out, observe Mortimer 
W. Jacobson, age 16 — who, to 
do him complete justice, meant 
no harm whatever. 

In fact, it could not even be 
said to be Mortimer’s fault. The 
day of the week on which the 
tour took place was known to all 
workers. All devices in its path 
ought to have been carefully neu- 
tralized or locked, since it was 
unreasonable to expect human 
beings to withstand the tempta- 
tion to handle knobs, keys, 
handles and pushbuttons. In 
addition, the guide ought to have 
been very carefully on the watch 
for those who succumbed. 

But, at the time, the guide had 
passed into the next room and 
Mortimer was tailing the line. He 
passed the keyboard on which in- 
structions were fed into the com- 
puter. He had no way of 
suspecting that the plans for a 



new robot design were being fed 
into it at that moment, or, being 
a good kid, he would have avoid- 
ed the keyboard. He had no way 
of knowing that, by what 
amounted to almost criminal 
negligence, a technician had not 
inactivated the keyboard. 

So Mortimer touched the keys 
at random as though he were 
playing a musical instrument. 

He did not notice that a sec- 
tion of perforated tape stretched 
itself out of the instrument in 
another part of the room — 
soundlessly, unobtrusively. 

Nor did the technician, when 
he returned, discover any signs 
of tampering. He felt a little un- 
easy at noticing that the key- 
board was live, but did not think 
to check. After a few minutes, 
even his first trifling uneasiness 
was gone, and he continued feed- 
ing data into the computer. 

As for Mortimer, neither then, 
nor ever afterward, did he know 
what he had done. 

The new LNE model was de- 
signed for the mining of boron 
in the asteroid belt. The boron 
hydrides were increasing in value 
yearly as primers for the proton 
micro-piles that carried the ulti- 
mate load of power production 
on spaceships, and Earth’s own 
meager supply was running thin. 

Physically, that meant that the 
LNE robots would have to be 
equipped with eyes sensitive to 



LENNY 



57 



those lines necessary in the 
spectroscopic analysis of boron 
ores and the type of limbs most 
useful for the working up of ore 
to finished product. As always, 
though, the mental equipment 
was the major problem. 

The first LNE positronic brain 
had been completed now. It was 
the prototype and would join all 
other prototypes in U. S. Robots’ 
collection. When finally tested, 
others would then be manufac- 
tured for leasing (never selling) 
to mining corporations. 

LNE-Prototype was complete 
now. Tall, straight, polished, it 
looked from outside like any of 
a number of not-too-specialized 
robot models. 

The technician in charge, 
guided by the directions for test- 
ing in the Handbook of Robotics, 
said, "How are you?” 

The indicated answer was to 
have been, "I am well and ready 
to begin my ftmctions. I trust you 
are well, too,” or some trivial 
modification thereof. 

This first exchange served no 
purpose but to show that the ro- 
bot could hear, understand a rou- 
tine question, and make a routine 
reply congruent with what one 
would expect of a robotic atti- 
tude. Beginning from there, one 
could pass on to more complicat- 
, ed matters that would test the 
^ different Laws and their interac- 
tion with the specialized knowl- 
edge of each particular model. 

,58 



So the technician said, "How 
are you?” He was instantly jolt- 
ed by the nature of LNE-Proto- 
type’s voice. It had a quality like 
no robotic voice he had ever 
heard (and he had heard many). 
It formed syllables like the 
chimes of a low-pitched celeste. 

So surprising was this that it 
was only after several moments 
that the technician heard, in 
retrospect, the syllables that had 
been formed by those heavenly 
tones. 

They were, "Da, da, da, 
goo.” 

The robot still stood tall and 
straight but its right hand crept 
upward and a finger went into 
its mouth. 

The technician stared in abso- 
lute horror and bolted. He locked 
the door behind him and, from 
another room, put in an emer- 
gency call to Dr. Susan Calvin. 

Dr. Susan Calvin was U. S. 
Robots’ (and, virtually, man- 
kind’s) only robopsychologist. 
She did not have to go very far 
in her testing of LNE-Prototype 
before she called very peremp- 
torily for a transcript of the 
computer-drawn plans of the 
positronic brain-paths and the 
taped instructions that had di- 
rected them. After some study, 
she, in turn, sent for Bogert. 

Her iron-gray hair was drawn 
severely back; her cold face, with 
its strong vertical lines marked 



INFINITY 



off by the horizontal gash of the 
pale, thin-lipped mouth, turned 
intensely upon him. 

"What is this, Peter?” 

Bogert studied the passages 
she pointed out with increasing 
stupefaction and said, "Good 
Lord, Susan, it makes no sense.” 
"It most certainly doesn’t. 
How did it get into the instruc- 
tions?” 

The technician in charge, 
called upon, swore in all sincer- 
ity that it was none of his doing, 
and that he could not account for 
it. The computer checked out 
negative for all attempts at flaw- 
finding. 

"The positronic brain,” said 
Susan Calvin, thoughtfully, "is 
past redemption. So many of the 
higher functions have been can- 
celled out by these meaningless 
directions that the result is ver)' 
like a human baby.” 

Bogert looked surprised, and 
Susan Calvin took on a frozen 
attitude at once, as she always did 
at the least expressed or implied 
doubt of her word. She said, "We 
make every effort to make a ro- 
bot as mentally like a man as pos- 
sible. Eliminate what we call the 
adult functions and what is nat- 
urally left is a human infant, 
mentally speaking. Why do you 
look so surprised, Peter?” 

LNE-Prototype, who showed 
no signs of understanding any of 
the things that were going on 
around it, suddenly slipped into 



a sitting position and began a 
minute examination of its feet. 

Bogert stared at it. "It’s a 
shame to have to dismantle the 
creature. It’s a handsome job.” 

"Dismantle it?” said the ro- 
bopsychologist forcefully. 

"Of course, Susan. What’s the 
use of this thing? Good Lord, if 
there’s one object completely and 
abysmally useless it’s a robot 
without a job it can perform. You 
don’t pretend there’s a job this 
thing can do, do you?” 

"No, of course not.” 

"Well, then?” 

Susan Calvin said, stubbornly, 
"I want to conduct more tests.” 

Bogert looked at her with a 
moment’s impatience, then 
shrugged. If there was one per- 
son at U. S. Robots with w'hom 
it was useless to dispute, surely 
that was Susan Calvin. Robots 
were all she loved, and long as- 
sociation with them, it seemed to 
Bogert, had deprived her of any 
appearance of humanity. She was 
no more to be argued out of a 
decision than was a triggered 
micro-pile to be argued out of 
operating. 

"What’s the use?” he breath- 
ed; then aloud, hastily: "Will 
you let us know when your tests 
are complete?” 

"I will,” she said. "Come, 
Lenny.” 

(LNE, thought Bogert. That 
becomes Lenny. Inevitable.) 

Susan Calvin held out her 

59 



LENNY 



hand but the robot only stared at 
it. Gently, the robopsychologist 
reached for the robot’s hand and 
took it. Lenny rose smoothly to 
its feet (its mechanical coordina- 
tion, at least, worked well ) . 
Together they walked out, robot 
topping woman by tM'o feet. 
Many eyes followed them cu- 
riously down the long corridors. 

One wall of Susan Calvin’s 
laboratory, the one opening di- 
rectly off her private, office, was 
covered with a highly magnified 
reproduction of a positronic-path 
chart. Susan Calvin had studied 
it with absorption for the better 
part of a month. 

She was considering it now, 
carefully, tracing the blunted 
paths through their contortions. 
Behind her, Lenny sat on the 
floor, moving its legs apart and 
together, crooning meaningless 
syllables to itself in a voice so 
beautiful that one could listen to 
the nonsense and be ravished. 

Susan Calvin turned to the 
robot, "Lenny — Lenny — ’’ 

She repeated this patiently un- 
til finally Lenny looked up and 
made an inquiring sound. The 
robopsychologist allowed a glim- 
mer of pleasure to cross her face 
fleetingly. The robot’s attention 
was being gained in progressive- 
ly shorter intervals. 

She said, “Raise your hand, 
Lenny. Hand — ^up. Hand — up.” 
She raised her own hand as 



she said it, over and over. 

Lenny followed the movement 
with its eyes. Up, down, up, 
down. Then it made an abortive 
gesture with its own hand and 
chimed, "Eh — uh.” 

"Very good, Lenny,” said Su- 
san Calvin, gravely. "Try it 
again. Hand — ^up.” 

Very gently, she reached out 
her own hand, took the robot’s, 
and raised it, lowered it. "Hand 
— up. Hand — up.” 

A voice from her ofifice called 
and interrupted. "Susan?” 

Calvin halted with a tighteti- 
ing of her lips. "What is it, Al- 
fred?” 

The research director walked 
in, and looked at the chart on 
the wall and at the robot. "Still 
at it?” 

"I’m at my work, yes.” 

"Well, you know, Susan . . .” 
He took out a cigar, staring at it 
hard, and made as though to bite 
off the end. In doing so, his eyes 
met the woman’s stern look of 
disapproval; and he put the cigar 
away and began over. "Well, you 
know, Susan, the LNE model is 
in production now.” 

"So I’ve heard. Is there some- 
thing in connection with it you 
wish of me?” 

“No-o. Still, the mere fact that 
it is in production and is doing 
well means that working with 
this messed-up specimen is use- 
less. Shouldn’t it be scrapped?” 
"In short, Alfred, you are 



60 



INFINITY 



annoyed that I am wasting my 
so-valuable time. Feel relieved. 
My time is not being wasted. I 
am working with this robot.” 

"But the work has no mean- 

■ ^ 
mg. 

"I’ll be the judge of that, Al- 
fred.” Her voice was ominously 
quiet, and Banning thought it 
wiser to shift his ground. 

"Will you tell me what mean- 
ing it has? What are you doing 
with it right now, for instance?” 

"I’m trying to get it to raise 
its hand on the word of com- 
mand. I’m trying to get it to 
imitate the sound of the word.” 

As though on cue, Lenny said, 
"Eh — ^uh” and raised its hand 
waveringly. 

Banning shook his head. "That 
voice is amazing. How does it 
happen?” 

Susan Calvin said, "I don’t 
quite know. Its transmitter is a 
normal one. It could speak nor- 
mally, I’m sure. It doesn’t, how- 
ever; it speaks like this as a con- 
sequence of something in the 
positronic paths that I have not 
yet pinpointed.” 

"Well, pinpoint it, for Heav- 
en’s sake. Speech like that might 
be useful.” 

"Oh, then there is some pos- 
sible use in my studies on Lenny?” 

Banning shrugged in embar- 
rassment. "Oh, well, it’s a minor 
point.” 

"I’m sorry you don’t see the 
major points, then,” said Susan 



Calvin with asperity, "which are 
much more important, but that’s 
not my fault. Would you leave 
now, Alfred, and let me go on 
with my work?” 

Banning got to his cigar, 
eventually, in Bogert’s office. He 
said, sourly, "That woman is 
growing more peculiar daily.” 
Bogert understood perfectly. 
In the U. S. Robot and Mechani- 
cal Man Corporation, there was 
only one "that woman.” He 
said, "Is she still scuffing about 
with that pseudo-robot — that 
Lenny of hers?” 

"Trying to get it to talk, so 
help me.” 

Bogert shrugged. "Points up 
the company problem. I mean, 
about getting qualified person- 
nel for research. If we had other 
robopsychologists, we could re- 
tire Susan. Incidentally, I pre- 
sume the directors’ meeting 
scheduled for tomorrow is for the 
purpose of dealing with the pro- 
curement problem?” 

Banning nodded and looked at 
his cigar as though it didn’t taste 
good. "Yes. Quality, though, not 
quantity. We’ve raised wages un- 
til there’s a steady stream of 
applicants — those who are inter- 
ested primarily in money. The 
trick is to get those who are in- 
terested primarily in robotics — a 
few more like Susan Calvin.” 
"Hell, no. Not like her.” 
"Well, not like her personal- 



LENNY 



61 



\j. But you’ll have to admit, 
Peter, that she’s single-minded 
about robots. She has no other 
interest in life.” 

"I know. And that’s exactly 
what makes her so unbearable.” 
Banning nodded. He had lost 
count of the many times it 
would have done his soul good 
to have fired Susan Calvin. He 
had also lost count of the num- 
ber of millions of dollars she had 
at one time or another saved the 
company. She was a truly indis- 
pensable woman and would re- 
main one until she died — or 
until they could lick the problem 
of finding men and women of 
her own high caliber who were 
interested in robotics research. 

He said, "I think we’ll cut 
down on the tour business.” 
Peter shrugged. ”If you say so. 
But meanwhile, seriously, what 
do we do about Susan? She can 
easily tie herself up with Lenny 
indefinitely. You know how she 
is when she gets what she con- 
siders an interesting problem.” 
"What can we do?” said Ban- 
ning. "If we become too anxious 
to pull her off, she’ll stay on out 
of feminine contrariness. In the 
last analysis, we can't force her 
to do anything.” 

The dark-haired mathematician 
smiled. "I wouldn’t ever apply 
the adjective ’feminine’ to any 
part of her.” 

"Oh, well,” said Banning, 
grumpily. "At least, it won’t do 



anyone any actual harm.” 

In that, if in nothing else, he 
was wrong. 

The emergency signal is 
always a tension-making thing in 
any large industrial establish- 
ment. Such signals had sounded 
in the history of U. S. Robots a 
dozen times — for fire, flood, riot 
and insurrection. 

But one thing had never oc- 
curred in all that time. Never had 
the particular signal indicating 
"Robot out of control” sounded. 
No one ever expected it to sound. 
It was only installed at govern- 
ment insistence. ("Damn the 
Frankenstein complex,” Banning 
would mutter on those rare occa- 
sions when he thought of it. ) 

Now, finally, the . shrill siren 
rose and fell at ten-second inter- 
vals, and practically no worker 
from the President of the Board 
of Directors down to the newest 
janitor’s assistant recognized the 
significance of the strange sound 
for a few moments. After those 
moments passed, tliere was a 
massive convergence of armed 
guards and medical men to the 
indicated area of danger and 
U. S. Robots was struck with 
paralysis. 

Charles Randow, computing 
technician, was taken off to hos- 
pital level with a broken arm. 
There was no other damage. No 
other physical damage. 

"But the moral damage,” 



«2 



INFINITY 



roared Lanning, "is beyond esti- 
mation.” 

Susan Calvin faced him, mur- 
derously calm. "You will do 
nothing to Lenny. Nothing. Do 
you understand.^” 

"Do you understand, Susan? 
That thing has hurt a human be- 
ing. It has broken First Law. 
Don’t you know what First Law 
is?” 

"You will do nothing to 
Lenny. ” 

"For God’s sake, Susan, do I 
have to tell you First Law? A ro- 
bot may not harm a human being 
or, through inaction, alloto a hu- 
man being to come to harm. Our 
entire position depends on the 
fact that First Law is rigidly ob- 
served by all robots of all types. 
If the public should hear, and 
they will hear, that there was an 
exception, even one exception, 
we might be forced to close down 
altogether. Our only chance of 
survival would be to announce 
at once that the robot involved 
had been destroyed, explain the 
circumstances, and hope that the 
public can be convinced that it 
will never happen again.” 

"I would like to find out ex- 
actly what happened,” said Su- 
san Calvin. "I was not present 
at the time and I would like to 
know exactly what the Randow 
boy was doing in my laboratories 
without my permission.” 

"The important thing that hap- 
pened,” said Lanning, "is ob- 



vious. Your robot struck Randow 
and the damn fool flashed the 
'Robot out of control’ button and 
made a case of it. But your robot 
struck him and inflicted damage 
to the extent of a broken arm. 
The truth is your Lenny is so 
distorted it lacks First Law and 
it must be destroyed.” 

"It does not lack First Law. I 
have studied its brainpaths and 
know it does not lack it.” 
"Then how could it strike a 
man?” Desperation turned him 
to sarcasm. "Ask Lenny. Surely 
you have taught it to speak by 
now.” 

Susan Calvin’s cheeks flushed 
a painful pink. She said, "I 
prefer to interview the victim. 
And in my absence, Alfred, I 
want my offices sealed tight, with 
Lenny inside. I want no one to 
approach him. If any harm comes 
to him while I am gone, this 
company will not see me again 
under any circumstances.” 

"Will you agree to its destruc- 
tion, if it has broken First 
Law?” 

"Yes,” said Susan Calvin, "be- 
cause I know it hasn’t.” 

Charles Randow lay in bed 
with his arm set and in a cast. 
His nujor suffering was still 
from the shock of those few mo- 
ments in which he thought a ro- 
bot was advancing on him with 
murder in its positronic mind. 
No other human had ever had 



LENNY 



63 



such reason to fear direct robotic 
harm as he had had just then. He 
had had a unique experience. 

Susan Gilvin and Alfred ban- 
ning stood beside his bed now; 
Peter Bogert, who had met them 
on the way, was with them. Doc- 
tors and nurses had been shooed 
out. 

Susan Calvin said, "Now — 
what happened?” 

Randow was daunted. He mut- 
tered, "The thing hit me in the 
arm. It was coming at me.” 
Calvin said, "Move further 
back in the story. What were you 
doing in my laboratory without 
authorization?” 

The young computer swal- 
lowed, and the Adam’s apple in 
his thin neck bobbed noticeably. 
He was high-cheekboned and ab- 
normally pale. He said, "We all 
knew about your robot. The 
word is you were trying to teach 
it to talk like a musical instru- 
ment. There were bets going as 
to whether it talked or not. Some 
said — uh — you could teach a 
gatepost to talk.” 

"I suppose,” said Susan Cal- 
vin, freezingly, "that is meant as 
a compliment. What did that 
have to do with you?” 

"I was supposed to go in 
there and settle matters — see if 
it would talk, you know. We 
swiped a key to your place and I 
waited till you were gone and 
went in. We had a lottery on 
who was to do it. I lost.” 



"Then?” 

"I tried to get it to talk and it 
hit me.” 

"What do you mean, you tried 
to get it to talk? How did you 
try?” 

"I — I asked it questions, but it 
wouldn’t say anything, and I had 
to give the thing a fair shake, so 
I kind of — yelled at it, and — ” 

"And?” 

There was a long pause. Un- 
der Susan Calvin’s unwavering 
stare, Randow finally said, "I 
tried to scare it into saying some- 
thing.” He added defensively. "I 
had to give the thing a fair 
shake.” 

"How did you try to scare it?” 

"I pretended to take a punch 
at it.” 

"And it brushed your arm 
aside?” 

"It hit my arm.” 

"Very well. That’s all.” To 
Tanning and Bogert, she said, 
"Come, gentlemen.” 

At the doorway, she turned 
back to Randow. "I can settle the 
bets going around, if you are still 
interested. Lenny can speak a few 
words quite well.” 

They said nothing until 
they were in Susan Calvin’s of- 
fice. Its walls were lined with 
her books, some of which she 
had written herself. It retained 
the patina of her own frigid, 
carefully-ordered personality. It 
had only one chair in it and she 



64 



INFINITY 



sat down. Lanning and Bogert 
remained standing. 

She said, "Lenny only defend- 
ed itself. That is the Third Law: 
A robot must protect its oivn ex- 
istence.” 

'^Except,” said Lanning force- 
fully, "when this conflicts with 
the First or Second Laws. Com- 
plete the statement! Lenny had 
no right to defend itself in any 
way at the cost of harm, however 
minor, to a human being.” 

"Nor did it,” shot back Cal- 
vin, "knowingly. Lenny has an 
aborted brain. It had no way of 
knowing its own strength or the 
weakness of humans. In brushing 
aside the threatening arm of a 
human being it could not know 
the bone would break. In hu- 
man terms, no moral blame can 
be attached to an individual who 
honestly cannot differentiate good 
and evil.” 

Bogert interrupted, soothing- 
ly, "Now, Susan, we don’t blame. 
We understand that Lenny is the 
equivalent of a baby, humanly 
speaking, and we don’t blame it. 
But the public will. U. S. Robots 
will be closed down.” 

"Quite the opposite. If you 
had the brains or a flea, Peter, 
you would see that this is the op- 
portunity U. S. Robots is waiting 
for. That this will solve its prob- 
lems.” 

Lanning hunched his white 
eyebrows low. He said, softly, 
"What problems, Susan?” 



"Isn’t the corporation con- 
cerned about maintaining our re- 
search personnel at the present 
— Heaven help us — high level?” 
"We certainly are.” 

"Well, what are you offering 
prospective researchers? Excite- 
ment? Novelty? The thrill of 
piercing the unknown? No! You 
offer them salaries and the assur- 
ance of no problems.” 

Bogert said, "How do you 
mean, no problems?” 

"Are there problems?” shot 
back Susan Calvin. "What kind 
of robots do we turn out? Fully 
developed robots, fit for their 
tasks. An industry tells us what 
it needs; a computer designs the 
brain; machinery forms the ro- 
bot; and there it is, complete and 
done. Peter, some time ago, you 
asked me with reference to 
Lenny what its use was. What’s 
the use, you said, of a robot that 
was not designed for any job? 
Now I ask you — what’s the use 
of a robot designed for only one 
job? It begins and ends in the 
same place. The LNE models 
mine boron. If beryllium is need- 
ed, they are useless. If boron 
technology enters a new phase, 
they become useless. A human be- 
ing so designed would be sub- 
human. A robot so designed is 
sub-robotic.” 

"Do you want a versatile ro- 
bot?” asked Lanning, incredu- 
lously. 

"Why not?” demanded the 



LENNY 



65 



robopsychologist. "Why not? 
I’ve been handed a robot with a 
brain almost completely stulti- 
fied. I’ve been teaching it, and 
you, Alfred, asked me what was 
ihe use of that. Perhaps very 
iittle as far as Lenny itself is con- 
cerned, since it will never pro- 
gress beyond the five-year-old 
ievel on a human scale. But 
what’s the use in general? A very 
great deal, if you consider li: as a 
study in the abstract problem of 
learning how to teach robots. I 
iiave learned ways to short-circuit 
neighboring pathways in order to 
create new ones. More study will 
yield better, more subtle and 
more efficient techniques of doing 
so.” 

"Well?” 

"Suppose you started with a 
positronic brain that had all the 
basic pathways carefully outlined 
but none of the secondaries. 
Suppose you then started creating 
secondaries. You could sell basic 
robots designed for instruction; 
robots that could be modelled to 
a job, and then modelled to an- 
other, if necessary. Robots would 
become as versatile as human be- 
ings. Robots could learnt” 

They stared at her. 

She said, impatiently, "You 
still don’t understand, do you?” 

"I understand what you are 
saying,” said Lanning. 

"Don’t you understand that 
with a completely new field of 
research and completely new 

66 



techniques to be developed, with 
a completely new area of the un- 
known to be penetrated, young- 
sters will feel a new urge to enter 
robotics? Try it and see.” 

"May I point out,” said Bo- 
gert, smoothly, "that this is dan- 
gerous. Beginning with ignorant 
robots such as Lenny will mean 
that one could never trust First 
Law — exactly as turned out in 
Lenny’s case.” 

"Exactly. Advertise the fact.” 
"Advertise it!” 

"Of course. Broadcast the dan- 
ger. Explain that you will set up 
a new research institute on the 
moon, if Earth’s population 
chooses not to allow this sort of 
thing to go on upon Earth, but 
stress the danger to the possible 
applicants by all means.” 

Lanning said, "For God’s 
sake, why?” 

"Because the spice of danger 
will add to the lure. Do you think 
nuclear technology involves no 
danger and spationautics no 
peril? Has your lure of absolute 
security been doing the trick for 
you? Has it helped you to cater 
to the Frankenstein complex you 
all despise so? Try something else 
then, something that has worked 
in other fields.” 

There was a sound from be- 
yond the door that led to Calvin’s 
personal laboratories. It was the 
chiming sound of Lenny. 

The robopsychologist broke 
off instantly, listening. She said, 

INFINITY 



"Excuse me. I think Lenny is 
calling me.” 

"Can it call you?” said Lan- 
ning. 

"I said I’ve managed to teach 
it a few words.” She stepped to- 
ward the door, a little flustered. 
“If you will wait for me — ” 

They watched her leave and 
were silent for a moment. Then 
Lanning said, "Do you think 
there’s anything to what she 
says, Peter?” 

"Just possibly, Alfred,” said 
Bogert. "Just possibly. Enough 
for us to bring the matter up at 
the directors’ meeting and see 
what they say. After all, the fat 
is in the fire. A robot has harmed 
a human being and knowledge of 
it is public. As Susan says, we 
might as well try to turn the mat- 
ter to our advantage. 

"Of course, I distrust her mo- 
tives in all this.” 

"How do you mean?” 

“Even if all she has said is 
perfectly true, it is only rational- 
ization as far as she is concerned. 
Her motive in all this is her de- 
sire to hold on to this robot. If 
we pressed her,” (and the 
mathematician smiled at the in- 
congruous literal meaning of the 
phrase) "she would say it was to 
continue learning techniques of 
teaching robots, but I think she 
has found another use for Lenny. 
A rather unique one that would 
fit only Susan of all women.” 



"I don’t get your drift.” 

Bogert said, “Did you hear 
what the robot was calling?” 

"Well, no, I didn’t quite—” 
began Lanning, when the door 
opened suddenly, and both men 
stopped talking at once. 

Susan Calvin stepped in again, 
looking about uncertainly. "Have 
either of you seen — I’m positive 
I had it somewhere about — Oh, 
there it is.” 

She ran to a corner of one 
bookcase and picked up an object 
of intricate metal webbery, dumb- 
bell shaped and hollow, with 
variously-shaped metal pieces in- 
side each hollow, just too large 
to be able to fall out of the web- 
bing. 

As she picked it up, the metal 
pieces within moved and struck 
together, clicking pleasantly. It 
struck Lanning that the object 
was a kind of robotic version of 
a baby rattle. 

As Susan Calvin opened the 
door again to pass through, 
Lenny’s voice chimed again from 
within. This time, Lanning heard 
it clearly as it spoke the words 
Susan Calvin had taught it. 

In heavenly celeste-like sounds, 
it called out, "Mommie, I want 
you. I want you, Mommie.” 

And the footsteps of Susan 
Calvin could be heard hurrying 
eagerly across the laboratory floor 
toward the only kind of baby she 
could ever have or love. 

00 00 00 



LENNY 



67 




6S 




Beyond Our Control 

The "feehnical diHiculHes" on Satellife 
Four became a menace fa the entire Earth! 



by RANDALL GARRETT 

I 

Illustrated by RICHARD KLUGA 



CHAPTER I 

T he big building stood out 
at night, even among the 
other towering spires of Manhat- 
tan. The bright, glowing symbol 
on its roof attracted the atten- 
tion of anyone who looked up 
at the night sky of New York; 
and from the coast of Connecti- 
cut, across Long Island Sound, 



the huge ball was easily visible 
as a shining dot of light. 

The symbol — as a symbol — 
resembled the well-known sym- 
bol of an atom. It consisted of a 
central globe surrounded by a 
swarm of swiftly-moving points 
of light that circled the glowing 
sphere endlessly. It represented 
the Earth itself and the robot- 
operated. artificial satellites that 

69 



whirled around it. It was the 
trademark of Circum-Global 
Communications. 

But it was more than just a 
symbol; it was also the antenna 
for the powerful transmitters that 
kept constant contact with the 
satellite relay stations which, in 
turn, rebroadcast the TV im- 
pulses to all parts of the globe. 

Inside the CGC Building, 
completely filling the upper 
twenty floors, were the sections 
of the vast electronic brain that 
computed and integrated the or- 
bits of the small artificial moons 
and kept the communication 
beams linked to them. And be- 
low the brain, occupying another 
four floors, were the control and 
monitoring rooms, in which the 
TV communications of a world 
were selected and programmed. 

In Johannesburg, South 
Africa, the new'ly-elected Presi- 
dent spoke in front of a TV 
camera. His dark, handsome face 
was coldly implacable as he said: 
"They wanted apartheid when 
they were in power; we see no 
reason to believe they have 
changed their minds. They want- 
ed apartheid — very well, they 
shall continue to have apartheid!” 

His image and his voice, pick- 
ed up by the camera and mike, 
were transmitted by cable to the 
beam broadcaster in the old capi- 
tal of Pretoria. From there, it 
was broadcast generally all over 
South Africa; at the same time, 



it was relayed by tight beam to 
Satellite Nine, which happened 
to be in the sky over that part of 
the Earth at that time. 

Satellite Nine, in turn, relayed 
it to all the other satellites in line 
of sight. Satellite Two, over the 
eastern seaboard of North Amer- 
ica, picked it up and automatic- 
ally relayed it to the big antenna 
on top of New York’s Circum- 
Global Communications Build- 
ing. 

There it was de-hashed and 
cleaned up. The static noise 
which it had picked up in its 
double flight through the iono- 
sphere was removed; the periods 
of fading were strengthened, and 
the whole communication was 
smoothed out and patched up. 

From the CGC Building, it 
was re-broadcast over the United 
States. A man in Bismarck, 
North Dakota, looked at the 
three-dimensional, full-color im- 
age of the President of South 
Africa, listened to his clear, care- 
fully-modulated words, and said: 
"Serves ’em right, by George!” 

Besides the world-wide televi- 
sion news and entertainment 
networks, CGC also handled 
person-to-person communication 
through its subsidiary. Intercon- 
tinental Visiphone. If the man in 
Bismarck had wanted to call the 
President of the Union of South 
Africa, his visiphone message 
would have gone out in almost 



70 



INFINITY 



exactly the same way, and the two 
men could have talked person-to- 
person, face to face. (Whether 
the President of South Africa 
would have accepted the call or 
not is another matter.) 

From all over the world, pro- 
grams and communications were 
picked up by the satellites and 
relayed to the CGC Building, 
where they were sorted and sent 
out again. 

The man in charge of the 
technical end of the whole opera- 
tion was a short, stocky, graying 
man named Macllheny. 

James Fitzpatrick Macllheny, 
Operational Vice-President of 
Circum-Global Communications, 
was one of those dynamic men 
who can allow their subordinates 
to call them by a nickname and 
still retain their respect. His wife 
called him "Jim”; his personal 
friends called him "Fitz”; and 
his subordinates called him 
"Mac.” He knew his own job, 
and the job of every man under 
him; if one of the men slipped 
up, he heard about it in short 
order, but, on the other hand, if 
the work was well done, he heard 
about that in short order, too. 
Macllheny was as free with his 
pats on the back as he was with 
the boot a little lower down. As 
a result, his men respected him 
and he respected them. 

Macllheny liked his work, so 
he was quite often found in his 
office or in the monitoring rooms 

BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



long after his prescribed quitting 
time. On the evening of 25 
March 1978, he had stayed over- 
time nearly four hours to watch 
the installation of a new compu- 
ter unit. As a matter of cold fact, 
since the day was Saturday, he 
needn’t have been in the office at 
all, but — well, a new computer 
isn’t put in every day, and Mac- 
llheny liked computer work. 

It was exactly 1903 hours 
when the PA system clicked on 
and an operator’s voice said: "Is 
Mr. Macllheny still in the build- 
ing, please? Mr. Macllheny, 
please call Satellite Beam Con- 
trol.” 

Macllheny stood up from the 
squatting position he had been 
in, handed a flashlight to one of 
the technicians standing nearby, 
and said: "Hold this, Harry; I’ll 
be back in a minute.” 

The installation crew went on 
with their work while Macllheny 
went over to a wall phone. He 
picked it up and punched the 
code number for Beam Control. 

"This is Macllheny,” he said 
when the recog signal came. 

"Mac? This is Blake. Can you 
come down right away? We’ve 
lost Number Four!” 

"What happened?” 

"Don’t know. She was nearly 
overhead, going along fine, when 
we lost contact all of a sudden. 
One minute she was there, the 
next minute she was gone. We’ve 
lost the beam, and — just a sec- 



71 



ond!” There was a pause at the 
other end, then Blake said; "We 
just got a report from some of 
the ground stations within range. 
Satellite Number Four has quit 
broadcasting altogether — there’s 
no signal from her at all!” 

"I’ll be right down,” Macll- 
heny snapped. He hung up the 
phone and headed for the eleva- 
tor. 

It wasn’t good. Number 
Four, like the other satellites, 
was in a nearly circular orbit high 
above the atmosphere of Earth. 
She should follow a mathemati- 
cally predictable course, subject 
only to slight variations from the 
pull of the other satellites and 
the pull of the moon, plus the 
small perturbations caused by the 
changing terrain of the Earth be- 
neath her. She’d have to be badly 
off course to be out of range of 
Beam Control. 

The elevator dropped Macll- 
heny down from the computer 
level to the monitor and control 
level. The men at the monitor 
screens didn’t look up from their 
work as Macllheny passed, but 
there was a feeling of tension in 
the air. The monitors knew what 
had happened. 

To the man in Bismarck, 
North Dakota, or the housewife 
in Tampa, Florida, the disappear- 
ance of the satellite meant noth- 
ing more than a slight irritation. 
If the program they were watch- 



ing happened to be one that was 
shunted through Number Four, 
their screen had simply gone dark 
for a moment. Then, with apolo- 
gies for "technical difficulties 
bej'ond our control,” another 
program had been switched into 
the channel. 

For the businessman in San 
Francisco and the government 
official in New York, the situa- 
tion was worse. Important inter- 
continental conferences were cut 
off in mid-sentence, and vital 
orders were left hanging in the 
air. 

For seven transcontinental 
stratoliners, the situation was al- 
most tragic. The superfast, rock- 
et-driven, robot-controlled ships, 
speeding their way through the 
lower ozonosphere, fifteen miles 
above the surface of the Earth, 
were suddenly without the hom- 
ing beams they depended upon 
to guide them safely to their des- 
tinations. Their beam-detection 
instruments went into a search 
pattern while alarm bells shat- 
tered the quiet within. Passengers 
in the lounges and in the cock- 
tail rooms looked suddenly wide- 
eyed. 

On one of the ships, there was 
a near panic when one fool 
screamed: "We’re going to 

crash! Get parachutes!” 

Not until the flight captain 
caught the hysterical passenger 
on the chin with a hard right up- 
percut and explained that every- 

INFINITY 



72 



thing was in good order did the 
passengers quiet down. He didn’t 
worry them by explaining that 
there were no parachutes aboard; 
at eighty thousand feet of altitude 
and a velocity of over forty miles 
per minute, a parachute would be 
worse than useless. 

Each of the stratoliners had to 
be taken over by the flight cap- 
tain and eased down manually. 

Macllheny had a pretty good 
idea of what was going on all 
over the United States, and he 
didn’t like it. He pushed open 
the door of the Beam Control 
Section and strode in. Blake met 
him halfway across the room. 

"Nothing yet, as far as contact 
goes,’’ he said. "We’ve heard 
from the spotter station in To- 
peka; they missed it at the same 
time we did — 1702 hours, two 
seconds.” 

Macllheny glanced at the 
chronometer on the wall. The 
satellite had been missing for 
nearly four minutes now. 

"Get the Long Island Observ- 
atory; tell ’em to keep an eye 
peeled for Number Four. It 
ought to be out of Earth’s shad- 
ow,” Macllheny ordered. "And 
start a sweep search with the 
radar. Cover the whole area. Get 
a prediction from the Orbit Di- 
vision; find the cone of greatest 
probability and search it care- 
fully. Unless the damned thing 
just blew up, it’s got to be up 
there somewhere!” 



"I’ve already called Orbits,” 
Blake said. "I’ll get Long Island 
on the line.” He headed for the 
phone. 

Macllheny went over to one of 
the control boards and looked 
over the instruments. He swept 
his eyes across them, reading 
them as a group, in the same way 
an ordinary man reads a sen- 
tence. Satellite Number Four 
had vanished, as far as the Beam 
Controls w'ere concerned. Data 
from the electronic brain indicat- 
ed that the acceleration of the 
satellite had been something ter- 
rific, but whether it had slowed 
down or speeded up was some- 
thing the brain couldn’t tell yet. 

A thin, sandy-haired man at a 
nearby board said: "What do you 
think, Mac?” 

"There’s only one thing could 
have done it, Jackson,” Macll- 
heny said. "A meteor.” 

"That’s what we figured. It 
must have been a doozie!” 
"Yeah. But which direction 
did it hit from? If it hit from the 
side, Number Four will be 
twisted around; its new orbit will 
be at an angle to the old one. If 
it overtook the satellite from be- 
hind, the additional velocity will 
lift it into a newer, higher orbit. 
If it was hit from the front, it’ll 
be slowed down, and it may hit 
the atmosphere.” 

"Not much chance of its be- 
ing overtaken,” Jackson said. "A 
meteor would have to be hitting 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



73 



it up at a pretty good clip to 
shove Four ahead that fast!” 
"Right,” MacIIheny agreed. 
"And meteors just don’t travel 
that fast in that direction.” 

"No — no, they don’t.” 
MacIIheny felt a sense of frus- 
tration. The satellite was gone, 
vanished he knew not whither. 
It had disappeared into some 
limbo which, at the moment, was 
beyond his reach. Until it was lo- 
cated, either visually or by radar, 
it might as well not exist. 

There was actually nothing 
further he could do until it was 
found; he couldn’t find it him- 
self. 

"What’s our next contact?” he 
asked. 

"Satellite Number Eight. It’ll 
be coming over the horizon in — ” 
Jackson glanced at the chronome- 
ter. " — in eight minutes, twenty- 
seven seconds. We’ll just have to 
hold on till then, I suppose.” 
MacIIheny thought about the 
stratoplanes he knew were up 
there. "Yeah,” he said tightly. 
"Yeah. Just wait.” 

CHAPTER II 

F our minutes came and 
went, while MacIIheny and 
the others smoked cigarettes and 
tried to maintain a certain 
amount of calm as they waited. 

At the end of the four min- 
utes, the phone rang. Blake, who 
was nearest, answered. 



"Yes. Good! Okay, thanks, Dr. 
Vanner!” He cradled the receiver 
and turned to MacIIheny. "The 
Observatory. They’ve spotted 
Number Four. She’s slowed way 
down and dropped. They’re 
feeding the orbit figures to Or- 
bits Division now, by teletype. 
She evidently hit a fast meteor, 
head on.” 

MacIIheny nodded. "It figures. 
Tell Orbits to feed us a computa- 
tion we can sight by — feed it di- 
rectly into the Brain first, so we 
can get things going. We’ve got 
to get that satellite back up 
where she belongs!” 

As the figures came in, it be- 
came obvious that the orbit of 
Number Four had been radically 
altered. Evidently, a high-speed, 
fairly massive meteor had struck 
her from above and forward, 
slowing her down. Immediately, 
the satellite had begun to drop, 
since angular acceleration no 
longer gave her enough centrif- 
ugal force to offset the gravita- 
tional pull of the Earth. As she 
dropped, however, she picked up 
more speed, and was able to 
establish a new, different orbit. 

With this information fed into 
it, the electronic brain in the top 
twenty floors of the CGC Build- 
ing went smoothly to work. Now 
that it knew where the satellite 
was, it could again focus the 
beams on her. Since the direction 
and velocity of the artificial moon 
in her new orbit were also 



74 



INFINITY 



known, the trackers could hold 
the beam on her. 

Macllheny rubbed his chin 
with a nervous forefinger as he 
watched the instruments on the 
control board come to life again 
as contact was re-established. 

Meanwhile, Orbits Division 
was still at work. In order to re- 
establish the old orbit, the atomic 
rocket engines in the satellite 
would have to be used. Short 
bursts, fired at precisely the right 
time, in precisely the right direc- 
tion, would lift her back up to 
where she belonged. It was up to 
Orbits Division to compute ex- 
actly how long and in what 
direction the remote-controlled 
rockets should apply their thrust. 

As the beams again locked on 
the wayward satellite, Macllheny 
kept his eyes on the control 
board. Lights flickered and rip- 
pled across the panel; needles on 
various meters wavered and 
jumped. Macllheny watched for 
several seconds before he said: 

"Blake! What the hell’s wrong 
there?’’ 

Blake watched a set of oscillo- 
scopes, four green-glowing 
screens which traced and re- 
traced bright yellow-green lines 
across their surfaces. His dark 
brows lowered over his eyes. 

"We can’t get anything to her, 
Mac. She’s dead. Either that me- 
teor hit her power supply or else 
it did more damage than we 
thought.” 



"No control, then?” 

Blake shook his head. "No 
control.” 

Macllheny frowned. If the re- 
mote controls wouldn’t work, 
then it wouldn’t be possible to 
realign the orbit of the satellite. 
"Keep trying,” he said. Then he 
turned from the control board, 
went to the phone, and punched 
the number of the Orbits Divi- 
sion. 

"Orbits Division, Masterson 
here,” said a gruff voice from the 
other end. 

"This is Macllheny. How does 
that orbit on Number Four look 
now?” 

"We’ve got it, Mac. I’ll send 
the corrective thrust data to the 
brain as soon as — ” 

"Never mind the corrective 
thrust,” Macllheny interrupted 
impatiently. "We can’t use it yet. 
We don’t have any positive con- 
tact with her; she’s dead — no re- 
sponse to the radio controls.” 

"You mean you can’t get her 
out of that orbit?” Masterson’ s 
voice was harsh. 

"That’s exactly what I mean. 
She’s stuck in her new orbit un- 
til we find some other way to 
change it. It can’t be done from 
here.” 

There was a pause at the other 
end, then Masterson said: "Mac, 
I hate to say this, but you’ve got 
a hot potato on your hands. That 
thing’s in a cometary orbit!” 

"Cometary?” 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



75 



"That’s right. Instead of a nor- 
mal, near-circular path, she’s 
going in an elongated ellipse. At 
perigee, she’ll be less than a hun- 
dred and fifty miles above the 
surface.’’ 

"Vhl” Macllheny felt as 
though someone had slugged 
him. If the satellite went that 
low, the air resistance would 
slow her even more before she 
broke free again. Each successive 
passage through the atmosphere 
would slow her more and more 
until she finally fell to Earth. If 
she fell into the ocean, that 
would be bad enough; but if she 
hit a populated area. . . . 

Fortunately, by that time 
her velocity would be consider- 
ably cut down; if she were to hit 
the atmosphere with her present 
velocity, the shock wave alone 
would be disastrous. 

"Okay,” said Macllheny at 
last. "Notify every observatory 
within sight range of her orbit! 
Keep a check on her every foot 
of the way! We’ll have to send 
up a drone.” 

"Right!” There was a subdued 
click as Masterson hung up. 

Macllheny turned. Blake was 
standing beside him. 'Tve got 
White Sands on the line, Mac.” 

Macllheny flashed an apprecia- 
tive grin. "Thanks, Blake.” He 
went to Blake’s office and closed 
the door. In the screen of the visi- 
phone, he saw the face of Paul 



Loch, of Commercial Rockets, 
Inc., White Sands. 

"How’s it going, Mac?” Loch 
asked. "I understand you’re hav- 
ing trouble with Number Four.” 

"It’s worse than just trouble, 
Paul,” Macllheny told him. He 
carefully explained what had 
happened. 

Loch nodded. "Looks rough. 
What do you figure on doing?” 

"How much will it cost me to 
rent one of your RJ-37 jobs with 
a drone robot in it?” 

"Fully fueled?” Loch thought 
a moment, then named a figure. 

"That’s pretty steep,” Macll- 
heny objected. 

Loch spread his hands. "Ac- 
tually, it’s just a guess; but I’m 
pretty sure we won’t be able to 
get insurance on her for some- 
thing like this. What do you plan 
to do?” 

"I want to take an RJ-37 up 
there to Number Four and use it 
to put the satellite back in a safe 
orbit. It’ll have to be done quick- 
ly or we’ll lose the satellite and a 
few thousand square miles of 
Earth.” 

Loch paused again, turning the 
idea over in his mind. Macllheny 
said nothing; he knew how the 
mind of Paul Loch worked. 
Finally, Loch said: "Tell you 
what; get the Government to un- 
derwrite the insurance, and we’ll 
give you the RJ-37 at cost. Fair 
enough?” 

Macllheny nodded. "Get her 



76 



INFINITY 




ready. If the President wi 
okay the insurance, we’ll have to 
pay the extra tariff. We absolute- 
ly can’t afford to lose that satel- 
lite.” 

"It’ll be ready in half an 
hour,” Loch promised as he cut 
off. 

Macllheny began punching the 
code numbers for Washington, 
but the phone rang before he 
was through. 

Pure luck, Macllheny thought 
to himself as the President’s face 
came onto the screen. 

"Evening, Fitz,” said the 
President of the United States. 

"Good evening, Mr. Presi- 
dent.” 

"Fitz, I understand you’re hav- 
ing a little trouble with one of 
your satellites. The Naval Ob- 
sers'atory tells me it’s in a colli- 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



77 



sion orbit of some kind. Where 
will it come down?” 

Macllheny shrugged. "I don’t 
know, sir. It’ll depend on how 
much resistance it offers to the 
atmosphere at that altitude, and 
that will depend on how badly it 
was torn up by the meteor.” 

"I see. What do you propose 
to do?” 

"I’m going to try to get one 
of Commercial’s RJ-37’s up there 
to put her back on course. I 
don’t want to lose a twelve-mil- 
lion-dollar space station.” 

"I can understand that, 
but — ” The President looked off 
his screen suddenly as though 
someone had attracted his atten- 
tion. "Hold the line a minute, 
Fitz,” he said. And the screen 
went blank. Macllheny waited. 
When the President came back, 
he wore a frown on his face. 
"The French government has 
been informed of what has hap- 
pened. They want to know what 
we intend to do.” 

"Did you tell them, sir?” 
"Not yet, but I will. But there 
are going to be other govern- 
ments interested pretty quickly. 
Nobody wants something like 
that falling down on their heads. 
We may have to send up a hydro- 
gen bomb and blow it out of ex- 
istence if you can’t get it back 
into a safe orbit.” 

"I know.” He paused. "Mr. 
President, I have an idea. Sup- 
pose we load the RJ- 3 7 with a 



thermonuclear warhead. If we 
can’t change the orbit of the sat- 
ellite, we’ll blast her.” 

A slow grin spread across the 
face of the Chief Executive. 
"Very neat, Fitz; it’ll also mean 
the government will have to un- 
derwrite the full insurance cost 
of the RJ-37 if you have to 
detonate the bomb.” 

Macllheny grinned back. "It 
will, at that. But don’t worry, 
Mr. President; I won’t set off the 
warhead unless I absolutely have 
to. I want to save that satellite — 
not destroy it.” 

"All right, Fitz. I’ll call 
White Sands and authorize the 
whole project. And I’ll try to 
keep the foreign governments 
happy.” 

"Fine, sir. We’ll know more 
after her first passage through 
perigee. If her orbit changes too 
much — ” 

"I’ll leave it up to you, Fitz. 
Good luck.” 

The special controls for 
remote operation of the RJ-37 
were in a room just off the main 
monitors. It was set up just like 
the control cockpit of the ship 
itself, with all the instruments in 
their proper places. If a pilot 
moved a control knob here, the 
same knob would move the same 
amount in the ship. Instead of 
the heavy paraglass window in 
the nose of the ship, the control 
room in the CGC Building had a 



78 



INFINITY 



wide, three-dimensional color TV 
screen. It gave the illusion of ac- 
tually being in the ship. 

The remote control cockpit 
was occupied by a Space Service 
officer — a Major Hamacher, who 
had been ordered up from a tour 
of inspection at the Brooklyn 
Navy Yard. He was a square- 
faced, clear-eyed, prematurely 
graying man in his early thirties. 

Macllheny was relieved when 
he saw the major; the officer 
looked as though he could do the 
job. Macllheny had wanted to 
use one of the Company pilots, 
but the President had vetoed that 
idea. If the ship was going to be 
insured by the government, then 
piloting it would be the govern- 
ment’s job, too. 

It had been nearly an hour, 
now, since the accident which 
had disabled Satellite Number 
Four. She had been carefully 
tracked by several observ'atories 
across the face of the Earth, and 
the figures had been carefully 
checked and rechecked. 

Lower and lower the satellite 
dropped, as it spun around Earth 
in its elongated orbit. At a hun- 
dred and fifty miles altitude, the 
air is thin — thinner than die air 
in any but the very best vacuum 
tubes. But it is still dense enough 
to slow down anything traveling 
as fast as the satellite. The slight 
friction would be enough to alter 
the course of the flying moon. 

Major Hamacher sat in the 



control chair, his hat off and his 
sleeves rolled up. As soon as the 
satellite started up again and her 
new orbit stabilized, the major 
would take off the RJ-37 and 
guide it to Number Four. 

The men waited tensely. Mac- 
llheny gnawed impatiently at the 
stem of his pipe, which had gone 
dead minutes before without his 
noticing it. 

They waited. Very soon, now. 
Number Four would hit perigee. 

It never did. 

The observatories saw what 
happened. As the satellite came 
lower and lower, it looked as 
though it were following a per- 
fectly normal path. Then, quite 
suddenly, there was a flare of 
light from beneath her! She 
leaped up again, under the driv- 
ing thrust of her underjets. 

Number Four had — somehow 
— changed her own orbit before 
the tenuous atmosphere could 
even begin to drag her down, 

CHAITER III 

A fter a few short bursts 
which lifted the satellite up 
into a higher orbit, the jets stop- 
ped. The artificial moon went on 
coasting innocently around the 
Earth. 

"Well — I’ll — be — damn- 
ed!” said Macllheny softly. The 
others, either silently or verbally, 
agreed with him. 

"Get a reading on that new 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



79 



orbit!” Macllheny snapped after 
a moment. Blake was already on 
the telephone. 

Macllheny turned to Major 
Hamacher. "Be ready to take that 
bird up as soon as we get orbital 
readings and bearings. There’s 
something screwy as hell going 
on up there, and I want to find 
out what it is! Those jets 
shouldn’t be working at all. 
What could have turned them on 
at exactly the right moment?” He 
was talking more to himself than 
to the major, who was busily 
making last-minute adjustments 
on the instruments. 

The computations on the new 
orbit came in, were run through 
the computers, and then fed into 
the autopilot section of the re- 
mote controls for the RJ-37. 

"Any time you’re ready. Ma- 
jor,” Macllheny said. 

The major adjusted his con- 
trols, threw a switch, and pressed 
a stud. 

Over two thousand miles away, 
in White Sands Spaceport, New 
Mexico, the atomic-powered, 
fully armed RJ-37 squirted a 
tongue of white-hot flame out of 
her rocket motors, climbed into 
the air, and launched herself to- 
ward space. 

Over Major Hamacher’s 
shoulder, Macllheny and Blake 
watched the screen that showed 
the scene from the forward port 
of the space rocket. 

For a while, there was noth- 



ing to see. As the ship gained 
altitude, it burst through a layer 
of low-hanging clouds, then 
there was nothing but the blue 
sky overhead. Gradually, as the 
air thinned, the sky became dark- 
er, more purplish. Stars began to 
appear, and finally the ship was 
in the blackness of space. 

The major’s hands glided 
smoothly over the controls, guid- 
ing the ship along its precalculat- 
ed orbit, slowly overtaking the 
runaway satellite. 

At first there was nothing to 
see — only the distant, fixed stars, 
glittering like tiny shards of dia- 
mond against a spread of black- 
est velvet. Then it became appar- 
ent that one of the shards was 
moving with relationship to the 
others. It became brighter, big- 
ger. Then it was no longer a 
point of light, but a globe of 
metal floating in the infinite 
darkness of space. 

Under the careful manipula- 
tion of Major Hamacher, the re- 
mote-controlled RJ-37 moved 
cautiously up to Satellite Num- 
ber Four. As the details of the 
globe came into focus, every man 
in the room gasped involuntarily. 

"What the hell is that?” asked 
Blake. 

No one answered. It was ob- 
vious to everj'one there that what- 
ever it was that had crashed into 
Number Four and driven it off 
course, it was most certainly not 
a meteorite. 



80 



INFINITY 



At last, Macllheny said: "I’ll 
be willing to bet my last dollar 
that that’s a spaceship of some 
kind.” 

From a gaping hole in the side 
of the satellite, there protruded 
a long, cigar-shaped shaft of 
bluish metal. It looked almost as 
though someone had shoved a fat 
blue cigar halfway into a silver 
tennis ball. 

Major Hamacher said softly: 
"I wonder what kind of metal 
that ship is made of?” 

"Yeah,” said Macllheny, "I 
wonder.” 

It was a good question. The 
steel hull of the Number Four 
had crumpled and torn like card- 
board around the hole where the 
impact of the ship had melted 
and volatalized the metal. But 
the hull df the alien spaceship 
wasn’t even dented. 

"What now?” asked the ma- 
jor. 

"Take the RJ-37 in carefully, 
and lock on with magnetic grap- 
ples,” Macllheny ordered. 

Blake glanced at him. "What 
If the pilot or crew of that ship 
is still alive?” 

"They probably are,” Macll- 
heny said. "But we’ve got an 
H-bomb in our ship; if they try 
anything funny. ...” 

"What makes you think they’re 
alive?” the major asked as he 
eased the ship in. 

"Somebody set off the atom 
jets when Number Four ap- 



proached perigee,” Macllheny re- 
minded him. 

The RJ-37 approached Num- 
ber Four closely, then the mag- 
netic grapples were turned on, 
and the ship stuck to the hull of 
the battered space station with a 
metallic clank. The RJ-37 was 
only a few yards from the edge 
of the gaping hole that had been 
torn- in the hull of the satellite. 
In front of them loomed the- 
queer blue shaft of the alien ship. 

"Okay, hold it,” said Macll- 
heny. "Let’s see what happens 
next. Surely they felt the jar 
when the ship landed.” Forcing 
himself to be calm, Macllheny 
struck a match and fired the to- 
bacco in the bowl of his pipe. 

They didn’t have to wait 
long. From the edge of the hole, 
there suddenly appeared a mov- 
ing shape. It was a manlike fig- 
ure clad in a brilliant crimson 
spacesuit. The helmet was a dark 
purple, aiTd it was difficult to see 
the head within. 

"Looks like a man,” said 
Blake. 

"Not quite,” Macllheny said. 
"Look at the joints in the arms 
and legs. He’s got two knees and 
two elbows.” 

"What’s that he’s holding 
cradled in his arms?” Blake won- 
dered. 

The major grunted. "Weapon 
of sonje sort. Look how he’s 
pointing it straight at us.” 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



81 



For a full minute, the figure 
stood there, for all the world as 
though he were on the surface of 
a planet instead of on the outer 
hull of a space station. Then, 
slowly, it lowered the thing in 
its hands. When nothing hap- 
pened, the figure put the weapon 
down on the steel hull at its feet 
and held its oddly double- jointed 
arms out from its body. 

"Wild Bill Hickok,” breathed 
Blake softly. 

"Huh?” said the major. 
"Hickok used to say: Tm a 
peaceable man.’ I guess that’s 
what this guy’s trying to say.” 
"Looks like it,” agreed Mac- 
Ilheny. "I wish there were some 
way of signaling him.” 

"We’ve got the spotlights,” 
suggested the major. 

Macllheny shook his head. 
"Leave ’em alone. We couldn’t 
make any sense with them, and 
our friend out there might think 
they were weapons of some kind. 
I don’t know what that thing he 
laid down will do, but I don’t 
want to find out just yet.” 

The alien, his hands still out 
from his sides, walked slowly to- 
ward the RJ-37,.his legs moving 
with a strange, loose suppleness. 
He came right up to the forward 
window and peered inside — at 
least, the attitude of his head 
suggested peering; within the 
dark purple helmet, the features 
could not be distinguished clear- 
¥ 



At last, the figure stepped 
back and started making wigwag 
signs with his arms. 

"Smart boy,” said Macllheny. 
"He recognizes that the ship is 
remote controlled. Wonder what 
he’s trying to say.” 

The alien waved his hands 
and made gestures, but there was 
no recognizable pattern. None of 
the hand-signals meant anything 
to the Earthmen. 

Blake leaned over and whis- 
pered into Macllheny’s ear, 
"Hadn’t we better call the Presi- 
dent, Mac? He’ll want to know.” 
Macllheny considered for a 
moment, then nodded. "Give 
him a direct beam on what’s 
coming over this screen. Then 
give me a pair of earphones con- 
nected to his office. I want to 
be able to hear what he says, but 
I don’t want him countermand- 
ing my orders to Major Ham- 
acher.” 

The alien was still making 
his meaningless signals when 
Blake brought in a pair of ear- 
phones and clamped them on 
Macllheny’s head. A throat mike 
around his neck completed the 
communication circuit. "Can you 
hear me, Mr. President?” Mac- 
llheny asked. 

"Yes. Your man Blake ex- 
plained everything to me.” 

"Got any advice?” 

"Not yet. Let’s see what hap- 
pens. By the way. I’ve given the 



82 



INFINITY 



impression to the rest of the 
world that it was through your 
efforts that Number Four avoided 
crashing; I don’t think we’d bet- 
ter let this leak out just yet.” 
"Right. Meantime, I’m going 
to try to capture that lad.” 
"How?” asked the President. 
"Invite him into the ship and 
bring him back with it.” 

"All right,” said the Presi- 
dent, "but be careful.” 

"He’s given up,” said Blake, 
gesturing toward the screen. 

The alien had given up his in- 
comprehensible gesticulating and 
stood with his odd arms folded in 
an uncomfortable-looking knot. 

"Major,” said Macllheny, 
"open the cargo hold.” 

The officer looked puzzled, 
but did as he was told. After all, 
the President himself had or- 
dered him to obey Macllheny. 
He touched a button on one side 
of the control panel. After four 
or five seconds, a light came on 
above it, indicating that the cargo 
hold of the RJ-37 was open. The 
alien evidently saw the door 
swing inward; he hesitated for a 
moment, then went around to the 
side of the ship, out of range of 
the TV camera. 

But he didn’t go inside imme- 
diately. Macllheny hadn’t expect- 
ed him to; the alien couldn’t be 
that stupid. After perhaps half a 
minute, the alien figure reap- 
peared and strode deliberately 
back to his own ship. He opened 



a port in the side and disappeared 
within. 

Then, quite suddenly, the 
screen went blank. 

"What happened?” snapped 
Macllheny. 

Blake, who had been watch- 
ing the beam control instru- 
ments, said: "I don’t know how 
he’s done it, but he’s managed to 
jam our radio beam! We’re not 
getting any signal through!” 

The President’s voice crackled 
in Macllheny’s ears. 

"Fitz! Detonate that bomb! 
We can’t take any chances!” 

Macllheny half grinned. "Ma- 
jor,” he said, "set off the H- 
bomb.” 

The major pressed a red but- 
ton on the control panel. 

Twenty minutes later, the 
screen came on again, showing 
the same scene as before. No one 
was surprised. By then, reports 
had come in that the satellite was 
still visible, still in its orbit. The 
H-bomb had failed to go off; the 
signal had never reached the det- 
onation device. 

The alien was standing in 
front of the camera, holding a 
large piece of mechanism in his 
hands. On Earth, the thing 
would have been almost too 
heavy to lift, but the gravitational 
pull of Satellite Number Four 
was almost negligible. 

"He’s got the H-bomb!" 

Macllheny recognized the 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



S3 



President’s voice in his ears. 

The alien bowed toward the 
camera, then straightened and 
went back to his own ship. He 
clambered up the side of it with 
magnetic soles as easily as he had 
walked on the hull of the space 
station. Near the end of his 
ship, he opened a small door in 
the hull. Within was utter 
blackness. 

Working slowly and deliber- 
ately, he pushed the H-bomb into 
the blackness. It wasn’t just ordi- 
nary darkness; it seemed to be 
an actual, solid wall, painted 
deep black. As the bomb went in, 
it looked as though it were cut 
off abruptly at the black wall. 
Finally, there was nothing out- 
side except the two detonating 
wires, which had been clipped off 
from inside the Earth ship. The 
alien took the wires in his hands. 

"My God!’’ said the major. 
"He’s going to blow up his own 
ship! Is he crazy?’’ 

"I don’t think so,” said Mac- 
Ilheny slowly. "Let’s see what 
happens.” 

As the two wires came in con- 
tact, the black wall inside the 
small door became lighter, a 
pearly gray in color. There was 
rfo other result. 

"Well I’ll be damned,” said 
Blake in a low, shocked voice. 

The alien closed the door in 
the side of his ship and came 
back down to the camera. He 
bowed again. Then he pointed to 



the weapon that he had been 
carrying and waved his hands. He 
picked it up and brought it 
around the RJ-37. From the 
microphones inside the ship came 
a faint scraping sound. Then the 
alien reappeared in front of the 
ship. His arms were empty; he 
had put the weapon inside the 
open cargo hold. 

"A fair trade is no robbery,” 
Blake said softly. 

The alien bowed once more, 
then turned on his heel and walk- 
ed back to his ship. This time, he 
got inside and closed the door. 
Then the blue ship moved. 

Slowly, like a car backing out 
of a garage, it pulled out of the 
hole in the satellite. Nowhere on 
its surface was there a mark or a 
scratch. When it was finally free 
of the satellite, it turned a little, 
its nose pointing off into space. 
A pale, rose-colored glow ap- 
peared at the tail of the ship, and 
the cigar of blue metal leaped 
forward. To all intents and pur- 
poses, it simply vanished. 

"That,” said the major in awe, 
"is what I call acceleration.” 

"Here’s the way I see it, Mr. 
President,” said Macllheny sev- 
eral hours later. "When he 
cracked up by accidentally plow- 
ing into Number Four, some- 
thing happened to his energy 
supply. Maybe he was already 
low, I don’t know. Anyway, he 
was out of fuel.” 



84 



INFINITY 



"What do you think he used 
for fuel?” 

"The most efficient there is,” 
said Macllheny. "Pure energy. 
Imagine some sort of force field 
that will let .energy in, but won’t 
let it out. It would be dead black 
on the outside, just like that 
whatever-it-was in the alien’s 
ship. He just set off the H-bomb 
inside that field; what little 
radiation did get out made the 
field look gray — and that’s a 
damned small loss in comparison 
with the total energy of that 
bomb.” 

"You know, Fitz, I’m going 
to have a hell of a job explaining 
where that bomb went,” said the 
President. 

"Yeah, but we’ve got his gun 
or whatever in exchange.” 

"But how do you know our 
technicians will be able to figure 
it out?” 

"I think they will,” Macllheny 
said. "Their technology must be 
similar to ours or he wouldn’t 
have been able to figure out how 
to fire the jets on the satellite or 
how to set off that bomb. He 
wouldn’t have even known what 



the bomb was unless he was 
familiar wdth something similar. 
And he wouldn’t have been able 
to blank out our controls unless 
he had a good idea of how they 
operated. They may be a little 
ahead of us, but not too much, 
and I’ll bet we have some things 
they haven’t.” 

"The trouble is,” the President 
said worriedly, "that we don’t 
know where he came from. He 
knows where we are, but we don’t 
have any idea where his home 
planet is.” 

"That’s true. On the other 
hand, we know something about 
his physical characteristics, while 
he doesn’t know anything about 
ours. For instance, I doubt if he’d 
be happy here on Earth; judging 
by the helmet he wore, he can’t 
stand too much light. He had it 
polarized almost black. Probably 
comes from a planet with a dim, 
red sun.” 

"Well, Fitz, when they do 
come, I hope it’s for trade and 
not for war.” 

Macllheny grinned. "It won’t 
be war. Don’t you remember? 
We’ve started trading already!” 



00 00 00 

INFINITY has a new address: 11 West 42nd Street, New York 36, 
New York. That’s where to send all manuscripts, letters and the like 
in the future. You can send money tliere, too, if you want to subscribe 
and be a Monster of Distinction. $3.50 for 12 issues, if you live in the 
United States, its territories and possessions, or Canada; $4.50 if you 
live elsewhere. It’s a wise move! 



BEYOND OUR CONTROL 



85 



Infinity's Choice 




by DAMON KNIGHT 



SF, THE Year’s Greatest Sci- 
ence-Fiction AND Fantasy, 
edited by Judith Merril. Dell, 
35<; Gnome, $3.95. 

As near as I can judge, this 
collection actually does contain 
all but about three of the first- 
rate science Action stories pub- 
lished in 1956 . This is a com- 
pliment to Miss Merril’s expert 
and painstaking winnowing job; 
but it also makes you stop and 
think about what she had to win- 
now from. 

To put it another way, she got 
h\' 0 -thirds of all the first-rate 
stories; tliat is, six. Six stories, 
plus three is nine — out of the 
total output of twenty magazines 
over a period of a year. (The 
other three, incidentally, are not 
here because (a) two of them 
were snapped up by P&SF for its 
own annual collection, and (b) 
two — not the same two — are by 
authors already represented.) 

It may be that science fiction, 
which looks so flourishing, is 
coming to the end of its cycle. I 
crib thiS' notion from Walter 
Kerr, who thinks our disillusion- 
ment with technological progress 
has already doomed our present 



theater, with its naturalistic con- 
ventions and its preoccupation 
with ideas drawn from science. 

Maybe the same thing is hap- 
pening to science fiction. Of the 
15 stories in this collection, three 
are "upbeat” in tone — "The Far 
Look,” by Theodore L. Thomas, 
"Silent Brother” by Algis Bud- 
rys, and Zenna Henderson’s won- 
derful "Anything Box.” The rest 
range from the mild, almost 
cheerful pessimism of Mack 
Reynolds’ "Compounded Inter- 
est” to the unrelieved gloom of 
my own "Stranger Station.” 

Our future, as depicted in 
these stories, is one in which a 
little old lady makes the world 
safe for silliness ("The Cosmic 
Expense Account,” by C. M. 
Kornbluth); some aliens from 
the remote past cause a whole- 
sale slaughter at a zoo, in the 
process getting themselves killed 
by lions and eagles ("The Man 
Who Liked Lions” by John 
Bernard Daley) ; an alien artifact 
terrifies a country doctor who 
can’t stand the idea that the uni- 
verse is larger than our planet 
("The Doorstcm” by R. Bret- 
nor) ; a man finds his rapport 



96 



INFINITY 



with a monstrous alien so pain- 
ful that in struggling against it 
he kills them both ("Stranger 
Station”), and so on. 

The point is not so much that 
the people in these stories come 
to sticky ends; I’m used to that. 
But never before have the fu- 
tures imagined by sf writers 
seemed to me so thoroughly and 
unvaryingly dismal. 

A little of this goes perhaps a 
longer way than we have been 
realizing. All right, our confi- 
dence in the future has slipped a 
little, for good reasons, in the 
last decade; all right, science fic- 
tion is among other things a lit- 
erature of escape and of protest: 
but surely we don’t have to bang 
the same drum all the time. 

(I have been writing gloomy 
stories for years, in a reaction 
against the silly convention that 
ruled in the magazines when I 
was a pup, that all stories must 
have happy endings. But I think 
a convention of gloom is just as 
silly as the other one, and you 
may expect me to turn optimist 
just as soon as I can retool for 
it.) 

Last year, as Miss Merril notes 
^in her summation, many of the 
stories had a common paranoid 
theme — the solitary hero in 
flight from a hostile world. This 
year, interestingly enough, there 
is a concentration of stories — 
four of them — built around the 
theme of multiple personalities. 

INFINITY'S CHOICE 



(Miss Merril insists on calling 
them “split-personalities,” fol- 
lowing a popular misconception. 
Multiple personality is entirely 
different from schizophrenia, or 
"split personality” — the first is 
very rare, the second is the most 
common mental disorder.) In 
Thomas’s "The Far Look,” two 
men come back united in mystic 
brotherhood from a tour of duty 
on the moon; the same thing 
happens to a shipload of inter- 
stellar explorers in Budrys’ "Si- 
lent Brother.” In that story, the 
protagonist discovers that he has 
a "silent brother” — another in- 
telligence inhabiting his body, 
who comes to conscious life when 
he sleeps. In Sturgeon’s "The 
Other Man,” exactly the same sit- 
uation is dealt with in a fascinat- 
ingly different way; but in each, 
and in the Thomas story, and in 
my "Stranger Station” — where 
the mystic-brotherhood expe- 
rience is supposed to happen, but 
doesn’t — the message seems to 
be: union is painful, oneness is 
bliss. 

What made four sf writers 
work so hard simultaneously at 
this theme, and exactly what it 
signifies, after all, are questions 
that have no place here, even if I 
thought I knew all the answers: 
but it is a fact that, to my taste 
at least, the best and richest sci- 
ence fiction comes out of these 
curious group preoccupations. 
(Sturgeon had a pure multiple- 



87 



personality story in last year’s 
collection, by the way — "Bulk- 
head.”) 

My favorites this year are "Si- 
lent Brother,” for its warm hu- 
man portrait and its superlative 
technique; Reynolds’ "Com- 
pounded Interest,” a wonderfully 
fresh and engaging new slant on 
time travel; "Prima Belladonna” 
by a new British writer named J. 
G. Ballard, who combines sing- 
ing plants, psychogenesis, plant- 
human miscegenation and a lot 
of deadpan doubletalk into a 
misty, oddball story reminiscent 
of the vanished Venard Mc- 
Laughlin; Sturgeon’s "The Other 
Man” for his usual pyrotechnic 
style, and for a new system of 
psychotherapy that sounds both 
revolutionary and practical (how- 
ever, the people are not people, 
but qualities — "good,” "evil,” 
"self-renunciation” — and that 
bothers me); and finally Zenna 
Henderson’s warm little master- 
piece, "Anything Box.” 

The other stories range from 
good to fair, beginning wdth C. 
M. Kornbluth’s "The Cosmic 
Expense Account,” which is wise, 
witty, funny, bitter and tragic, 
but ducks one of the hard basic 
questions of fantasy; "If this 
could happen once, w'hy not 
twice?” Thomas’s "The Far 
Look” suffers from a lack of 
characterization — the two princi- 
pals have no faces and no indi- 
vidual differences, nor any per- 



sonal reactions to each other — but 
is memorable for its careful, 
elaborate treatment of survival on 
the moon. 

John Bernard Daley’s "The 
Man "Who Liked Lions” has 
some effective passages of mood- 
wTiting, but uses stock sf gim- 
micks self-consciously and in 
places ludricrously: "It took 

time ... to move along the path- 
ways of time.” Aiming at trag- 
edy, it fails to establish sympathy 
for anyone concerned, and be- 
comes pointlessly unpleasant. 
Bretnor’s "The Doorstop” is a 
good minor idea, almost com- 
pletely covered with chintz. 
"Each an Explorer” is very minor 
Asimov: a stock plot, treated per- 
functorily. "Grandmother’s Lie 
Soap” by Robert Abernathy is 
whimsy muddled in with science 
fiction, a dreadful combination 
that affects me like a fingernail 
scraping a blackboard. 

There is also a rather clumsy 
essay in future archaeology, 
"Digging the Weans” by Robert 
Nathan, which I could have done 
without, and a satire by Ray Rus- 
sell, "Put Them All Together, 
They Spell Monster,” which is 
funny, but no more belongs here 
than does Randy Garrett’s verse 
parody, "All About 'The 
Thing.’ ” 

00 

The Third Level, by Jack 
Finney. Rinehart, $3.00. 

Except for one novel. The 



88 



INFINITY 



Body Snatchers (Dell, 1955), 
Jack Finney’s work has previous- 
ly been known only to those sf 
readers who happened across his 
stories in the slicks, or in an in- 
frequent anthology. Now Rine- 
hart has gathered tw^elve of the 
stories — all but four of them 
science fiction — to make this 
volume. 

Finney’s stories are told in an 
easy, conversational style, usually 
in the first person. You begin by 
listening out of common polite- 
ness, and after the first two sen- 
tences, you find yourself hooked. 
'The stories he tells are unpreten- 
tious, his tone light, sometimes 
almost humble; but his themes 
are the big ones of time and 
loneliness. 

"The Third Level” is about a 
man who finds a stairv'ay in 
Grand Central Station, leading 
down to a gas-lit platform where 
you can buy a ticket for the Illi- 
nois of 1894, when "summer 
evenings were twice as long, and 
people sat out on their lawns, the 
men smoking cigars and talking 
quietly, the women waving palm- 
leaf fans, with the fireflies all 
around, in a peaceful world. . . . 
back there with the First World 
War still twenty years off, and 
World War II over forty years 
in the future. ...” 

Nostalgia is the main ingre- 
dient of this story, and of 
the equally moving "Second 
Chance,” as well as the Civil 



War fantasy, "Quit Zoomin’ 
Those Hands Through the Air.” 
Finney’s interest in the Ameri- 
can past seems genuine; he speaks 
with loving persuasiveness of old 
cars, old places and customs. 

Finney’s people are usually 
looking for something they can’t 
name or describe — a happier 
time, a better place. In "Such In- 
teresting Neighbors,” playing the 
field, Finney brings his protag- 
onists from the future to our own 
peaceful times, when there is 
" 'no weapon worth mentioning 
except the atom and hydrogen 
bombs, and those in their earliest, 
uncomplex stages’.” In "Of 
Missing Persons,” the longed-for 
paradise is distant in space, 
rather than in time; and in a 
mundane story like "Contents of 
the Dead Man’s Pocket,” it is not 
actually mentioned or thought of 
at all, but Finney’s hero, one of 
a thousand identical big-city 
Charleys, bewildered by life, 
caught between romance and am- 
bition, is a man tormented con- 
stantly by the sense of it. 

Finney touches a nerve in most 
of us, I think: the baffled, word- 
less feeling that there must be 
something better than this. 

In most of the time stories, 
even though the endings may be 
happy, there is a hint of danger. 
In the classic "I’m Scared” and 
in "There Is a Tide ...” this 
suggestion becomes more explicit. 
Finney seems to be saying that 



INFINITY'S CHOICE 



89 



an occasional random slippage of 
time can help or harm us-^ut 
that either way, we are ants in 
the gears, perilously caught up 
in something too big for us to 
understand. 

"Behind the News” is a funny 
but pretty routine fantasy about 
a meteor metal which, melted 
into type, turns whatever is 
printed with it into the truth. 
"Cousin Len’s Wonderful Ad- 
jective Cellar” is pure whimsy, 
as you might expect, and "A 
Dash of Spring” is a wholly suc- 
cessful attempt (as "Something 
In a Cloud” is an unhappy fail- 
ure) at kidding the slick love 
story while at the same time fol- 
lowing its formula exactly. 

Some writers’ stories suffer by 
collection: put them side by side, 
and immediately you see the stale 
devices, the self-plagiarisms, the 
bankruptcy of imagination which 
had gone unnoticed before. 
Finney’s work passes this test 
triumphantly: his stories add lus- 
ter to each other. 

If you collect science fiction of 
enduring quality, this book be- 
longs in your library. 

00 

Sometime, Never, by Wil- 
liam Golding, John Wyndham, 
and Mervyn Peake. Ballantine, 
35 ^^. 

Here are three oddly assorted 
entertainments by three highly 
accomplished British writers. 
"Envoy Extraordinary” by Wil- 

90 



liam Golding is a satirical fan- 
tasy of what might have 
happened if an ingenious Greek 
had invented (a) the pressure 
cooker, (b) the steamship, (c) 
the mortar, and (d) the art of 
printing, in the time of the mid- 
dle Roman Empire. Golding, 
whose forte is subtlety, has em- 
bedded his joke pretty deeply in 
a mass of erudition, irony, and 
well-bred understatement, but it 
is still very funny, and a shrewd- 
er blow at the romantic ideal of 
Progress than Ray Bradbury’s 
“The Flying Machine.” 

"Consider Her Ways” deals 
with a future world in which 
men have been wiped out by a 
mutated virus, leaving women to 
reproduce by parthenogenesis, 
and to build up a rigid, ant-like 
society of Mothers, Servitors, 
Doctors and Workers, each class 
biologically tailored for its func- 
tion. Wyndham drops a repre- 
sentative young 20th century 
woman bang into the middle of 
all this by way of a soul-liberating 
drug called chuinjuatin, and pits 
her against a cultured lady of the 
time in an argument that may 
give you pause: If the women of 
the future are happy and secure 
in their stable, peaceful world, 
what exactly have they lost, in 
losing romantic love? The story 
is beautifully written, fully real- 
ized in a way that few sf stories 
since Gernsback have been. 

"Boy In Darkness” is a cu- 



INFINITY 



rious episode in the life of Titus 
Groan, the central character of 
two long Gothic-fantastic novels 
by Peake. Titus, here simply re- 
ferred to as "the Boy,” is the heir 
of a gigantic, nine-tenths desert- 
ed castle in a gloomy, decaying, 
tradition-ridden land. Very little 
happens to him, or to anybody 
in these stories, but Peake’s lav- 
ish Victorian prose builds up 
memorable impressions of dusty 
gloom, of silence and decay. A 
painter and illustrator by profes- 
sion, Peake uses words more for 
their colors than for their pre- 
cise meanings. The results are 
sometimes awkward, always ver- 
bose, but ever and again, like a 
man sloshing paint together at 
random, Peake gets striking and 
unheard-of combinations. This 
time, in his only outright fantasy 
to date — it is subtitled “The 
Dream” in this collection, and 
Peake seems to have meant it as 
that — he achieves images that are 
perfect nonsense, and yet will 
chill your blood as you read. 

00 

Take Me to Your Presi- 
dent by Leonard Wibberley 
(Putnam, S3. 50) is mock science 
fiction, and is mentioned here 
only to warn you against it. The 
story is a very mild and much 
protracted farce about a simple 
Yorkshireman from a village 
called Mars, who by a series of 
circumstances too painfully un- 
likely to mention, gets himself 



transported by rocket to the 
U. S. where, mistaken for a real 
Man From Mars, he masterminds 
a Big Three Conference and 
brings about world peace. The 
author’s views on politics and 
similar matters are vintage 1933, 
his style is barely above the ju- 
venile level, and what he knows 
about rockets could be inscribed 
handily on the head of a pin. The 
story has some unassuming vir- 
tues, but is not by any definition 
science fiction: caveat lector. 

00 

Advent Publishers, 3508 
North Sheffield, Chicago 1 3, 
Illinois, have issued as their sec- 
ond publishing venture a Frank 
Kelly Freas portfolio — 17 black- 
and-white illustrations litho- 
graphed on heavy stock, with a 
two-color cover, $1.50. I am a 
Freas fan, but no portfolio col- 
lector; if I were, I think I might 
still not go very hard for this 
one. Unlike Finlay and Bok, 
Freas seldom does full-page, self- 
contained, decorative art. His 
drawings are almost all vi- 
gnettes, designed to be seen on a 
page of type. Of those repro- 
duced here, only one, the illus- 
tration for Thomas N. Scortia’s 
"Sea Change,” with its hundreds 
of meshing gears, has the fine de- 
tail to satisfy those who are 
hypnotized by difficult pen-work. 
Some early drawings are down- 
right sloppy, and should never 
have been reprinted at all. °° 



INFINITY'S CHOICE 



91 




92 




The 

Statistomat 

Pitch 

by CHAN DAVIS 

Illustrated by JOHN SCHOENHERR 




92 




The Statistomat Pitch 

by Chan Davis 



T he fciTTLE SALESMAN buzzed 
into my hotel room exactly 
at 10. He must have been wait- 
ing in the corridor, ambushing 
the second-hand. 

I watched from my deep cliair 
in the corner while he slid open 
his raincoat, lifted it neatly off 
his back (the casual shrug w'asn’t 
his style), and stood with it 
hanging from his forefinger. 
With a bright, apologetic smile 
he hung it up in the alcove be- 
hind the door. I decided not to 
object to his using the hook with- 
out asking; it’d just slow things 
up. 

The salesman smiled again, 
ducked out into the corridor and 
back in with a flat 24x20 brief 
case and a large, oddly shaped 
suitcase. His presentation charts 
and a mockup of the computer, 
obviously. More apologetic faces, 
and he sat down. 

He said, "It was very good of 
you, Mr. Borch, to give me this 
chance to tell you about our new, 
personalized Statistomat. I know 
you’re a busy man — ’’ 

I raised my drooping eyelids 
just enough to see him properly. 

" — with all your responsibili- 
ties, and I hope I’ll be able to 
answer all your questions on 



modern estate planning. That’s 
what I’m here for!’’ He smiled 
as if he were pausing for ques- 
tions, but he didn’t pause. 

He intoned, "The man of 
wealth has a special responsibility 
in our society. He is the trustee 
of invested capital, on which our 
economy rests. His proud charge 
is to direct and build his hold- 
ings wisely; and natural eco- 
nomic laws have justly placed the 
nation’s considerable estates in 
the hands of men equal to the 
charge. 

"At the same time, such men 
owe themselves freedom from 
deprivation. And they owe them- 
selves a financial plan adapted to 
their own — er — preferences and 
tastes in freedom from depriva- 
tion. This is why we speak of 
personalized estate planning. 
Maybe this wdll be still clearer, 
Mr. Borch, if we look at an ex- 
ample.’’ 

Here we go again, I thouglrt, 
as he hauled a packet out of his 
brief case, opened it out into a 
little stand on the table, and flip- 
ped up the first chart. 

"Take the case of Robert 
Jones, who inherits $25,000,000 
from his father. The inheritance 



94 



INFINITY 



taxes are all taken care of by in- 
vestment-incentive deductions, so 
Mr. Jones has $25,000,000 in 
liquid assets to invest.” 

Right on the ball, I thought. 
The hypothetical 25 million was 
just alwut twice the publicly 
known size of the Borch estate, 
therefore right in the league he 
could figure I’d like to be play- 
ing in. And the hypothetical 
Jones on the chart, confidently 
facing the future, was handsome 
and dignified, but not much 
more so than I was. 

"Mr. Jones has a wife and one 
young son.” They appeafed be- 
side him on tlie second chart, and 
they looked very pleasant. The 
salesman knew Jed Borch was 
unmarried. "He has planned to 
his satisfaction a way of life ap- 
propriate to his standing.” On 
the next chart the Jones family 
was backed up by a half-acre 
bungalow, a lake, and wooded 
hills. 

"His desire is for security, to 
ensure this pattern of living to 
himself and his wife, and to his 
son. His personalized Statistomat 
plans his finances accordingly.” 
On succeeding charts, Jones 
changed only in subtle lengthen- 
ing of tlie firm lines in his face, 
his wife didn’t change at all, but 
his son sprouted to a six-footer 
and the bungalow grew some 
too. A bar graph superimposed 
on the picture kept track of the 
investment. By the time the boy 



was full-grown it had risen to a 
modest $100,000,000. 

"On the other hand, consider 
Michael Thompson. Starting 
with the same sum of $25,000,- 
000, he may just as legitimately 
view different goals. Mr. Thomp- 
son is unmarried, and has not yet 
chosen to what station he will 
aspire.” Chapter Two of the 
charts had just as admirable- 
looking a man (different color 
hair). I was curious how much 
Statistomat would finagle for 
him, but not curious enough to 
sit through another dozen charts. 
When the salesman said, "Nat- 
urally he’s willing to risk — ” I 
interrupted : 

"I don’t want any risk. Can’t 
afford to.” I smiled slyly. "Re- 
sponsibility to society.” 

“Of course, of course, but you 
might be willing, like Mr. 
Thompson, to — er — look beyond 
the more accepted channels of 
finance for the sake of the larger 
returns that can be realized by 
breaking new ground, as it were 
— participating in pioneering en- 
terprises.” 

"Oh, sure. Don’t want to miss 
any bets.” 

So FAR you couldn’t see any- 
thing to complain about in his 
pitch, considering it alongside 
the pitch for General Computers’ 
Incomac. In fact it essentially ivas 
a General Computers pitch, with 
the brand name changed. Let’s 



THE STATISTOMAT PITCH 



95 



get to the point, I thought. I 
pointed to the odd suitcase. 
"Uh . . . what’s that?” 

He was adaptable enough to 
give up the Michael Thompson 
story and open up the suitcase, 
promptly and proudly. 

"Oh, the computer,” I said, al- 
most encouragingly. 

But he didn’t let that stand. 
"No,” he admitted, "this is just 
a life-size fascimile of the new 
Statistomat. I’m afraid the real 
thing is too valuable and too 
heavy for me to. carry around, 
even to such an important inter- 
view as this.” 

"How heavy?” 

"I’d say about ten times as 
heavy as this one,” he evaded 
neatly. "Now on this facsimile I 
can illustrate the ideas we’ve been 
developing. Here, you see this 
screen and these knobs. I’ll turn 
this switch on and we can watch 
this part of it just as if this was 
the real computer.” 

My surprise was genuine. His 
demonstration mockup was a 
live one. I wished my brother 
could see it. 

"On this screen we record 
your time^dependent utility func- 
tion. For your convenience, the 
input is mechanical, but from 
this point on all the Statistomat’s 
computing is performed digit- 
ally.” 

I said, "Huh?” 
"Time-dependent utility func- 
tion,” he repeated brightly. 



"Oh, I can’t be bothered — all 
that tedmical stuff — leave it to 
specialists,” I muttered, making 
the trap nice and inviting. 

But he knew he had to explain. 
"Naturally only the essentials 
need your personal attention,” he 
said smoothly. "You express in 
the time-dependent utility func- 
tion your financial policy — ^the 
broad, overall outlines of the 
course you want to steer. This 
must come from you. This makes 
the difference betv^een a Robert 
Jones and a Michael Thompson. 
You have a possibility of dou- 
bling your investment in a year, 
let’s say. How certain, do you 
have to be of it before you pre- 
fer it to a more conser%'ative in- 
vestment? Even odds? Six to 
four? Or we might ask a similar 
cfuestion about a ten-year period. 
You see the point.” 

"Uh . . . but it depends on 
how much I’ve got.” I kicked my- 
self. My brother would not 
approve my helping the salesman 
along like that. 

"Ah, yes! Certainly! When 
you have a hundred million, an 
extra million won’t seem nearly 
as important to you as when you 
have twenty-five. We understand! 
Our technical expression for this 
is that the value of money to the 
investor is not a linear fonction 
of dollars. Logarithmic, some 
say — but that depends on the in- 
vestor. Whatever relationship 
you select as a matter of fiscal 



96 



INFINITY 



policy. That is a part, a critical 
part, of the information which 
you give the Statistomat when 
you work out your time-depen- 
dent utility function, or risk 
function, as we call it for short.” 

"No risk! Can’t afford risk!” 

"Mr. Borch, I speak with con- 
fidence when I assure you that 
your estate can be subject to as 
little risk when its direction is 
assigned to the Statistomat as in 
any other way.” I almost called 
him on that, until I reflected that 
he had really made only one spe- 
cific claim: that you could feed 
just as excessively conservative a 
risk function into the Statistomat, 
if you were compulsively con- 
servative, as you could into the 
G. C. Incomac. That might be 
true. 

He went on, "Two of the 
soundest business research 
agencies in the country have been 
invited to inspect all our opera- 
tions and have okayed us, not 
once but repeatedly: the S.E.C. 
and the F.T.C.” 

Darn right they’ve checked 
you, I thought— by law. And 
don’t think they’ll stop. 

But it didn’t do any good to 
spot a steep slant in his formula- 
tions. He was a salesman, after 
all. Just so he stayed clear of 
demonstrable falsehoods and 
"fraudulent tendencies” (as de- 
fined by the 1978 Commerce 
Act), he was within his rights. 

THE STATISTOMAT PITCH 



He was staying clear. Some of 
his claims a stickler might want 
to check up on; but I wasn’t go- 
ing to bother any more to watch 
for things like that. I thought the 
stickler would find in each case 
that he’d been wasting his time. 
This little salesman seemed aw- 
fully good at skating just at the 
edge. He really knew his profes- 
sion. 

I didn’t let my bafflement 
show. I just looked at him dully 
and made noises as if I was 
about to say something. I was, 
but I didn’t know what. 

There just had to be something 
bad about this Statistomat ven- 
ture. Without (apparently) any 
new gimmick, a small new com- 
pany was producing just as good 
a product as one of General 
Computers’ best-managed divi- 
sions. How could Statistomat 
hope to deliver a normal profit? 
It wasn’t reasonable. There must 
be badly cut corners, if not in the 
product then in the sales program 
or the servicing of customers; or 
else the investors weren’t hoping 
for a normal return. In that case 
there was something funny in 
their motives — a long-range 
scheme to undermine G. C., or 
something. That might show up 
in this salesman’s pitch. 

So I switched to, "How do I 
know what stocks this thing’ll 
tell me to buy?” 

"Not tell you to buy,” he cor- 
rected charmingly, "buy you. The 

97 



machine can be connected by di- 
rect wire to the Exchange’s com- 
puter.” 

"Yeah-yeah, but how do I 
know what stocks I’ll be getting? 
I want General Computers pre- 
ferred!” 

He smiled. "Quite possibly 
you’ll find yourself the owner of 
a considerable block of G. C. 
preferred — provided of course 
your time-dependent utility func- 
tion dictates a policy which — ” 

"You mean,” I said, with the 
very suspicious expression my 
brother always objected to, 
"you’d let your machine bid for 
G. C. stock for me?” 

"Naturally. The Statistomat 
has often recommended purchase 
of G. C. stock. Let me explain 
to you an aspect of modern firm 
management which may be so 
specialized as to have escaped 
your attention. 

"Each firm draws up what is 
called a preference function. It is 
somewhat analogous to the in- 
vestor’s time-dependent utility 
function. It gives exact expres- 
sion to the objectives of the firm. 
For any conceivable economic po- 
sition the firm might be in, it 
determines, let us say, the weight 
the board places on a dividend 
this year as against a larger divi- 
dend a year from now, or ten. 
And so on. It is the criterion for 
all the optimization computations 
which pattern the firm’s activi- 
ties. 



"Under a 1978 law, every 
corporation offering stock on the 
Exchange must publish its pref- 
erence function. All these 
preference functions are known 
to your Statistomat; in effect, it 
is as if they were all in Statisto- 
mat’s memory, continuously up- 
dated, automatically. Naturally, 
for a particular kind of investor 
only certain kinds of stock are 
suitable. 

"But Statistomat does more — 
and this is the point I think you’ll 
find intensely interesting. After 
all, more than the firm’s policy is 
important. Two firms may have 
identical financial policies but 
very different dividend rates, 
either due to different degrees of 
success or to different kinds of 
partial success. Statistomat also 
has available to it a sound esti- 
mate of the firm’s expecta- 
tions — ” 

"Who does the — uh — estimat- 
ing?” 

“Based entirely on Commerce 
Department reports. That’s as 
impartial as you can get, Mr. 
Borch, and it’s also one of the 
best-informed sources in the 
country. This information is 
processed at our home office on 
one of the largest automatic com- 
puters in the world. You see, 
Statistomat Incorporated is deep- 
ly conscious of its responsibility 
to give flawless service to the men 
vdio control and direct America’s 
fortunes.” 



98 



INFINITY 



The little salesman sound- 
ed overconfident again so I 
thought I’d shake him up. "What 
does General Computers use for 
their whatchamacallit.^’’ 

"The General Computers’ In- 
comac uses exactly the same 
sources of information.’’ 

I said in a bored voice, "What 
do you do different?” 

"The principles of investment 
planning are scientific principles, 
Mr. Borch, and anyb^y work- 
ing in this field must follow 
them.” 

Let’s hear you desperate, I 
thought, but my voice just got 
drier. "Guess I might as well get 

fi 

an — 

"Of course there are differ- 
ences!” 

"Uh— yeah?” 

"Oh, yes, yes! You see, even 
though the principles are the 
same, still if only one company 
was offering this service to in- 
vestors — ” 

"Then what? It’d jack up the 
prices?” 

But that was over-eager. He 
backed away immediately: "Cer- 
tainly not, Mr. Borch. Who 
could suggest such a thing? We 
all know General Computers’ 
spotless reputation as one of the 
most heavily capitalized corpora- 
tions in the country. Besides, by 
now we should be free of wild 
brain-truster theories about the 
evils of monopoly.” He smiled 
sanctimoniously. 

THE STATISTOMAT PITCH 



I drawled, "So what if only 
one company was selling these 
machines?” My brother would be 
grinding his teeth at this follow- 
up. But I thought I just about 
had this salesman boxed. I’d bet- 
ter! He was catching on. 

He answered, "Even though 
the same principles are applied, 
there are bound to be individual 
differences in their application. If 
all users of estate planning com- 
puters had relations with the 
same firm, all these minor fluc- 
tuations would be in the same 
direction for all of them. Al- 
though the investment mixes 
would be'far from identical, they 
would be more alike than eco- 
nomic principles require. On the 
other hand, the investor who has 
the courage to associate himself 
with an alternate set of analyses 
may be comparatively alone in 
the course he chooses. Thus he 
may benefit, when this course 
chances to be better than expecta- 
tions, by having to share the re- 
ward with relatively few others.” 
I had him! I said, "You mean 
this thing might buy me different 
stocks from what the G. C. 
whatchamacallit would?” 

"Why, yes, it would be sur- 
prising if there was not at some 
point a difference in the two so- 
utions. That was the point you 
raised so well — ” 

"And you mean your answer 
might make me more money?” 
"Why, yes, in the case — that 



is, in the way that I was discuss- 
ing. Mmm-hmxn.” 

“But then you think G. G. 
gives out wrong solutions. ” 

"Not wrong — ” 

“Solutions that aren’t the best 
— that means wrong, huh?” 
“Why, yes, I mean, I suppose 
that — ” He stopped. 

I SMILED. I dropped my Jed 
Borch personality (which the 
little salesman probably much 
preferred). “You know who 
you’ve been talking to?” 
“F.T.C.?” 

“An F.T.C. Investigator,” I 
said, professionally. Without 
waiting for him to ask, I showed 
him my card, with the impressive 
embossed words across the cen- 
ter: “Fair Trade Corps.” Then I 
pressed a button and instantly 
two cops were in the door and at 
the salesman’s shoulders. 

The salesman said, “What’s 
the charge?” 

“You know what it is.” 

“The charge, please.” 

I shrugged. “Fraudulent ten- 
dencies; to wit, unfair, untrue, 
and scurrilous maligning of a 
competitive corporate body, indi- 
vidual, and/or product. Okay, 
boys.” 

They handcuffed him and 
hustled him out without even 
picking up his luggage and his 
raincoat. He tried to look confi- 



dent, but I thought the law-abid- 
ing public wouldn’t suffer much 
longer from the connivings of 
Statistomat, Inc. I settled back 
into the deep chair and turned 
with a triumphant grin toward 
the door of the room’s closet. 

It opened. My brother, dressed 
in the distinctive charcoal-green 
suit of a General Computers 
junior executive, stepped out, 
turning off the tape recorder as 
he came. 

He was grinning too. “You 
had me biting my lip,” he ad- 
mitted, “but you came through 
all right. It’s a good thing, too. 
It always gives me a specially 
grateful feeling when I see so- 
ciety saved from a deviant like 
that. . . . It’s not that there was 
any danger they would have chal- 
lenged Incomac’s market leader- 
ship, but even if they had con- 
tinued in existence as small as 
they are now they would have 
taken away some customers. Our 
responsibility to our stockholders 
is not just to make profit. It is 
to make the maximum possible 
profit — to optimize!” 

Of course! 

My brother’s gaze was distant 
as his keen mind searched for the 
deeper lessons of the day’s work. 
He said, “Maybe we should get 
the public release of those Com- 
merce Department reports dis- 
continued. ” 



00 00 00 



100 



INFINITY 



Fanfare 




LONCON 1957 

by ROBERT SILVERBERG 



September 9, 1957 

S IXTY-ODD Americans and sev- 
eral hundred native Britons 
gathered in London on the week 
end just concluded to attend the 
Fifteenth World Science Fiction 
Convention — the second of the 
fifteen to be held outside the bor- 
ders of the United States, and the 
first World Convention ever 
held outside the Western Hem- 
isphere. 

Science fiction fandom history 
had been made even before the 
convention opened — when fifty- 
five American fans arwJ profes- 
sionals joined together to charter 
a commercial airplane for the At- 
lantic crossing, a project iniated 
by 'New York’s Dave Kyle. The 
Yanks descended en masse upon 
the Old World the evening of 
September 3 for a three-week 
stay; among them were such 
notables as agent Forrest J. 
Ackerman, former editor Sam 
Moskowitz, writers Harry Har- 
rison and Robert Abernathy, and 



numerous well-known fans, in- 
cluding Dave Kyle and his bride 
of tw^o days, the former Ruth 
Landis. 

Several other Americans reach- 
ed. the shindig independently: 
Guest of Honor John W. Camp- 
bell, Jr., and his wife, writers H. 
Beam Piper and John Victor Pe- 
terson, and this reporter. British 
fans, authors, illustrators, and 
editors were of course present in 
profusion as the first day of the 
convention arrived. 

Americans accustomed to the 
recent fashion of mammoth 
World Conventions were in for 
a pleasant surprise. The Fifteenth 
Convention was held at the 
hundred-room King’s Court 
Hotel. The entire hotel was taken 
over by fandom for the week- 
end. The atmosphere was inti- 
mate, the spirit ( and spirits ) con- 
genial. Peg Campbell (Mrs. J. 
W. C.) spoke for all the Ameri- 
cans present when she publicly 
praised the convention committee 



FANFARE 



101 



for the warmth with which the 
visitors had been greeted and the 
gaiety that prevailed throughout 
their stay. 

The intention of the commit- 
tee was that the convention 
should be unique in another re- 
spect — the program was to start 
on time. This commendable 
ideal proved difficult of practical 
realization, despite valiant efforts. 

Officially the convention 
opened on Friday, September 6, 
after several days of preliminary 
wassailing. In a brief opening 
session, Convention President 
John Wyndham and Chairman 
Ted Carnell called the gathering 
to order and introduced Guest of 
Honor Campbell, Transatlantic 
Fan Fund delegate Robert A. 
Madle, and several members of 
the convention committee. An 
evening of convention-type so- 
cializing followed. 

Those delegates awake early 
enough the next morning were 
treated to a taped jazz concert. 
The convention luncheon took 
place Saturday afternoon. Ameri- 
cans pained by the astronomical 
tabs at the last few conventions 
found the price of admission 
here (13/6, or $1.90) as de- 
lightful as the food (roast duck- 
ling). After the luncheon the 
halls were thrown open to all 
who cared to hear the speakers. 
The American delegates had the 
novel experience of drinking a 
toast to the Queen, proposed by 



John Wyndham; luncheon speak- 
ers following him included Ted 
Carnell, John Brunner, Sam 
Moskowitz, Arthur C. Clarke, 
Forric Ackerman, and others, in- 
cluding Lars Helander of Swe- 
den and Rainer Eisfeld of 
Germany, who expressed mes- 
sages of greetings from the fans 
of those countries. Highlight of 
the session, of course, was the 
talk delivered by John W. Camp- 
bell, Jr., serving his third term 
as a convention guest of honor 
and celebrating his tw-^entieth an- 
niversary' as a science fiction 
editor. 

An auction session and a lec- 
ture on Britain’s first planetar- 
ium, to be opened shortly, were 
evening features. At this time 
representatives of England’s two 
rival TV outfits,' BBC and ITV, 
arrived to film the goings-on; the 
BBC men had such a good time 
that they were still on hand, al- 
beit groggily, at 5 a.m.! 

Toward late evening fans in 
weird garb began to appear; it 
was time for the annual masque- 
rade ball. Prizes for outstanding 
costumes were divided equally 
between the hemispheres; Ivlr. 
and Mrs. Frank Dietz and Mr. 
and Mrs. Dave Kyle, New York- 
ers all, joined Anglofan Norman 
Weedall and the team of John 
Brunner and Marjorie Keller in 
the winners’ circle. 

After a particularly rousing all- 
night party session, the wearying 



102 



INFINITY 



conventioneers assembled on 
Sunday for an afternoon of fan 
activity. First came the Ceremony 
of St. Fantony, a medieval-style 
affair in which ten select fans 
were initiated into the Order of 
St. Fantony; in swift order came 
three well-conceived amateur 
films done by various English fan 
groups, and a remarkable dem- 
onstration of hypnotism by 
Anglofan Harry Powers. The 
three 1957 Achievement Awards 
were presented at the e\^ening 
session: John Campbell’s As- 
tounding once again captured the 
award for Best American SF 
Magazine, with Fantasy and Sci- 
ence Fiction, Infinity, and Galaxy 
close behind. New Worlds, edit- 
ed by Ted Carnell, was chosen 
top British SF Magazine, w'hile 
Science Fiction Times again took 
the fanzine accolade for Jimmy 
Taurasi and Ray van Houten. 

More fan humor followed, this 
time a taped account of a mythi- 
cal convention, and then a show- 
ing of the unusual animated 
fantasy film, Mr. Wonderbird. 
Fannish carousing saw Sunday 
out. 

Monday, the final day of the 
convention, was rather a subdued 
one. At a morning business ses- 
sion the 1958 convention site was 
uncontestedly voted to Los 
Angeles, and in the afternoon the 
program consisted of a panel dis- 
cussion of science fiction fol- 
low'ed by a talk by John Camp- 



bell on psionics. Writer Eric 
Frank Russell also put in an ap- 
pearance. 

And so the Fifteenth World 
Science Fiction Convention faded 
and took its place in science-fic- 
tional history, with plans already 
afoot for the West Coast doings 
next September. The American 
attendees, by now expert in 
shillings and pence and begin- 
ning to grow fond of tea and 
British beer, brought their over- 
seas visit toward a close — their 
eyes a trifle bloodshot, perhaps, 
but all of them conscious in a 
deeper way than ever before of 
the international nature of their 
hobby, and all of them grateful 
to the hard-working Britishers 
who had made such a good show 
of their first crack at a World 
Convention. 

00 00 00 

{ Ordinarily, "Fanfare” is In- 
finity’s fanzine reprint depart- 
ment. The convention report you 
have just read, however, was 
-written especially for us by Bob 
Silverberg, and has not appeared 
elsewhere before. 

(In future issues, we will re- 
turn to our usual policy of re- 
printing worthwhile material 
from fanzines whenever suitable 
items can be found. Suggestions 
for such items are welcome — and 
both the author of the item and 
the person suggesting it will re- 
ceive tokens of our gratitude.) 



FANFARE 



103 




104 




SATURN 

by ROBERT ERNEST GILBERT 




Gangsters were out of 
date, and the ice- 
sweeper was an unlikely 
thing to steal. But Vieenxo 

was a streak, so what 
else could Henry do? 



Illustrated by RICHARD KLUGA 
CHAPTER I 

A ZIZ RIPPED the radio from 
Henry’s spacesuit and care- 
fully resealed the panel. "Dis’ll 
be the weldin’ of ya, kid,” Aziz 
said, crinkling his round, sallow 
face in an attempt to smile. "Yer 
name’ll be in ever’ yap — in our 
orbit, dat is.” 

"But what — ” Henry tried to 
say. 

"No doubt at all,” Vicenzo 
agreed, cleverly shorting Henry’s 
drive tube. 

"I don’t — ” Henry said. 



105 




"Vicenzo figured it right, 
kid,” Aziz said. He gestured 
with powerful arms too long for 
his short body. "Ya’ll hit dat ole 
sweeper square on the bulb. Vi- 
cenzo’s a streak.” 

"I’m a genius,” Vicenzo ad- 
mitted. He smoothed the black 
bangs covering his forehead to 
the eyebrows, and he fingered the 
pointed sideburns reaching to his 
chin. "You jump into space, 
Henry, and then we’ll increase 
v'elocity and sink into the Rihgs.” 

Aziz begged, "Do us a blazer, 
kid. We won’t go far. Too low 
on fuel.” He lowered the helmet 
over Henry’s bushy, blond hair 
and ruddy face and clamped it 
shut. 

Vicenzo and Aziz left Henry 
in the airvalve and closed the 
inner door. When the valve 
emptied to vacuum, Henrj’- re- 
luctantly lowered the outer door 
and stepped to the magnetized 
platform. 

Henry stood twenty meters 
above Ring B of the Rings of 
Saturn. Below him, balls of ice, 
metal, rock, and assorted cosmic 
debris flowed slowly past with 
stars occasionally visible between 
the whirling particles. To either 
side, the billions of tiny moons 
blended with distance to form a 
solid, glaring white band. Henry 
bent his knees and dived into 
space. 

Holding his body stiff with a 
practiced rigidity, and cautiously 

106 



moving arms and legs to check 
any tendency to tunable, Henry 
glided above the Rings. Turning 
his head, he saw exhaust spurt 
from the collection of spherical 
cabins, tanks, and motors that 
was the spaceship; and the craft 
moved from his line of sight, 
leaving him alone. 

Henry drifted above a flat sur- 
face more than sixty-six thousand 
kilometers wide. To his left. Ring 
B extended to the black circle of 
the Cassini Division which sep- 
arated it from the less brilliant 
Ring A. To his right, the gleam 
of Ring B abruptly changed to 
the dimness of the Crape Ring 
through which the surface erf 
Saturn was visible. Of the giant 
planet, forty-three thousand kilo- 
meters away, Henr)' saw but half 
a crescent marked with vague 
white and yellow bands and ob- 
scure spots. 

Red and green lights blinked 
ahead. Most of the approaching 
ice-sweeper was shadowed and 
invisible against the blackness of 
space. Henry saw no lighted win- 
dows, but he experimentally 
aimed his signal torch at a dome 
on top of the space station. 

Moving with the exact velocity 
of the Ring, the sweeper, a 
bundle of huge cylindrical tanks 
bound together with fragile gird- 
ers, apparently grew larger. A 
rectangular snout, swinging from 
side to side and probing into the 
Ring, dangled below the front of 

INFINITY 



the sweeper. Dancing in mutual 
gravitational attraction, the tiny 
moons constantly closed the open 
lane behind the snout. 

Henry blinked his torch and 
saw its red reflection in the 
sweeper’s observation dome, but 
no one answered the signal. 
Gaudy with lights, the station 
drifted past below Henry’s level 
and nearly one hundred meters 
away. 

Henry struggled futilely in 
his suit and tumbled through 
space. He saw the flaming arch 
of the Milky Way and then the 
immense shadow of Saturn 
stretching black across the Rings. 
Somewhere, the bright exhaust of 
a distant spaceship streaked 
across the stars. 

By missing the ice-sweeper, he 
would continue on a spiral 
course down toward Saturn, un- 
til he' at last fell into the 
methane; or, if his falling body 
accelerated enough, he might 
establish an orbit closer to the 
planet and revolve around it, un- 
til he died of thirst. Vicenzo and 
Aziz would never find him and 
would probably not search long. 

Fire shot past Henry’s gyrat- 
ing figure. A thin cable followed 
the small rocket. Henry’s flailing 
arms struck the cable, and his 
gauntleted hands gripped the 
strands. He pulled back the 
spent rocket, and the missile’s 
magnetic head clanked against 



his spacesuit. The lifeline reeled 
him toward the station. 

A hairless, brown, deeply 
wrinkled face watched Henry 
from a small window beside an 
open airvalve. The cable pulled 
Henry to the muzzle of a rocket 
launcher. He jerked the magnetic 
head loose and shut himself into 
the valve. He slid the inner door 
open and, weakly kicking his 
legs, floated on his back into the 
sweeper. 

An old man, the owner of the 
wrinkled face, stopped Henry 
from drifting into the far wall 
of the cramped compartment. 
The old man wore shorts and a 
sleeveless shirt, and his shrunken 
limbs seemed to have no muscles. 
He drew Henry down to the 
magnetized deck and removed the 
space helmet. 

"You’re just a boy!” the man 
wheezed in a cracked voice. 
"Where’d you come from, boy.^” 

Henry, watching through half- 
closed eyes, almost said that he 
was twenty years old. Then he 
remembered to mutter, "Water.” 

The old man said, "How’d 
you get out here? There’s been 
no ships in days. What are you 
doing here all by yourself? I al- 
most missed you. You’d been on 
a bad course if I had. Just hap- 
pened to see your torch tv'irling 
around out there. Ain’t many 
people can come that close with 
a life rocket and not hit a fel- 
low. For a second, I thought the 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



107 



rocket was going to bust you. Of 
course, being skillful the way I 
am, it didn’t seem likely, but 
I—” 

"Water,” Henry moaned. 

"Water? Why sure. How long 
you been drifting, boy? Must be 
mighty thirsty. What’s your 
name? I’m Ranjit. I’ve never got 
used to people not telling their 
last names. Of course, even when 
I was your age, most people 
called each other by their first 
names. I can’t hardly remember 
what my last name is. You might 
not think it to look at me, but 
I’m 107 years old. Here, let’s get 
you out of that suit and see what 
kind of shape you’re in.” 

Horizontal and vertical wrin- 
kles formed ragged crosshatching 
on Ranjit’s forehead. His nose 
and ears were large and grotesque 
with age. He unsealed the space- 
suit at the waist and, holding 
Henry against the deck with one 
hand, pulled off the top section. 

"Water!” Henry gasped. Peep- 
ing secretly, he saw that the 
teletype, near the airvalve, was 
dismantled, with the parts tied in 
bunches floating over the empty 
case. He located the radio above 
an aluminum desk in the far cor- 
ner. He could see no visular set 
anywhere. 

Ranjit dragged off the lower 
section of the suit, leaving Henry 
resplendent in orange knickers 
and red blouse. "How do you 
feel?” Ranjit asked. "What ship 



are you from? I don’t see how 
they could just leave you. I’d bet- 
ter report this. They must be 
looking for you. Funny I haven’t 
heard about it. Of course, the 
teletype’s out of whack. I’m fix- 
ing it. I’m handy that way, fixing 
things. The heater broke 'down 
the other day, but I’ve got it go- 
ing good now. I’ve started melt- 
ing ice again. The tanks were 
about empty after that last ship 
fueled up. The Asteroid Ann, it 
was, or was it the Mimas Mae? 
They’ve both been by lately, 
but — ” 

"Water!” Henry pleaded. He 
had to do something to make 
Ranjit leave the compartment. 
He tried to listen for sounds that 
would locate the other crew mem- 
bers. Holding his handsome 
blond head in his hands, he sat 
up. The movement lifted his 
body from the deck, leaving his 
metal-soled shoes attached, so 
that he sat in mid-air. 

"Water?” said Ranjit. "If 
there’s one thing I’ve got, it’s 
water. Let me see, there must be 
a flask someplace.” He rummag- 
ed in the netting that covered 
two opposite walls of the com- 
partment and secured an incred- 
ible clutter of weightless tools, 
books, food cases, clothing, oxy- 
gen tanks, spacesuit parts, wire, 
tubing, and other items. Still 
talking, Ranjit vanished through 
an opening almost concealed by 
the net. 



108 



INFINITY 



Henry leaped to the radio. 
He whipped a pair of insulated 
snips from his pocket and cut 
through the electric cord in four 
places. He thrust the severed 
pieces behind the desk and stood 
listening. Somewhere, Ranjit con- 
tinued talking, but Henry heard 
no answering voices. The only 
other sounds were the whine of 
electric motors and the throb of 
pumps. Henry pulled out a 
screwdriver and paused as he no- 
ticed a sign above the desk. The 
sign said: 

AAAAAAA CCCCC D EEEEE 
G H miH LLLL MM NNNN- 
NNNNN OO PP Q RR S TTTTT 
UUUUU 

Shaking his head, Henry re- 
leased the clamps, turned the 
radio, pried off the back, and 
stabbed and slashed at the in- 
terior with the screwdriver. He 
replaced the back and returned 
to his position on the deck just 
in time. 

" — really should,” Ranjit con- 
tinued, walking through the 
door. "You’re lucky I saw you at 
all. Of course. I’m watchful all 
the time. Would you believe I've 
been right here on this sweeper 
for nine years? Here’s some 
water, boy.” 

Henry squirted water from 
the flexible flask into his mouth. 
Ranjit said, "You ain’t as thirsty 
as I thought you w'as. How come 

OUTSIDE SATURN 



you wasn’t calling for help?” 

“No radio,” Henry mumbled. 
"The drive tube wouldn’t work 
either.” 

"What were you doing in a 
bunged-up suit like that? You’ll 
never live to be as old as me if 
you take such chances. If this 
station had visular, I’d have pick- 
ed you up in that, but the com- 
pany said I wouldn’t have no use 
for it.” 

"Where is everybody?” Henry 
asked, pushing himself unstead- 
ily to his feet. 

"Everybody who? Are you 
hungry? How long since you had 
anything to eat? There’s nobody 
here but me. Karoly and Wilbur 
both passed beyond, Wilbur just 
two weeks ago. He was only 94 
too. The company’s sending 
some help, they say. I don’t see 
how they expect one man to run 
an ice-sweeper, even if he is 
handy like me. This is a danger- 
ous job, although you might not 
think so. Do you realize, young 
fellow, we’re whizzing around 
Saturn once every nine hours, 
four minutes, and twelve sec- 
onds? That’s an orbital velocity 
of nineteen point eight kilome- 
ters per second! We’ve got to go 
that fast to stay in this orbit.” 

"There’s no one else here but 
you?” Henry said. 

"Think what would happen if 
something slow'ed us down!” 
Ranjit exclaimed. "We’d start 
falling toward Saturn and finally 

m 



crash! Meteors are scarce out 
here, but what if a spaceship 
came around retrograde and 
smashed this station head-on? 
There ain’t a thing I can do if it 
starts falling. Part of it’s a ship, 
but the company took the motor 
out. All I’ve got is the flywheel 
steering gear. The control room’s 
right up there above my bunk.” 
Ran jit pointed to a sandwich 
bunk hoisted against the pipes 
and conduits that crisscrossed the 
ceiling in abstract patterns. He 
said, "I can spin this sweeper 
like a top, if I want to, but I can’t 
accelerate it.” He squinted 
through the small window beside 
the airvalve. "Speaking of space- 
ships,” he rambled, "there’s one 
out there now. Wonder who it 
is? There’s not a thing on the 
schedule. Looks lite they 
would’ve called in.” 

Moving to the radio, the old 
man fumbled with knobs and 
switches and pounded on the 
cabinet with his fist. "This 
radio’s deader than a asteroid!” 
he yelled. "First the teletype and 
now the radio. I’m supposed to 
report all ships to Titan, but 
how can I with no equipment? 
Maybe that’s your ship come 
hunting you. What did you say 
your name is?” 

"Henry,” said Henry. 

"Henry, huh? My name’s Ran- 
jit. I better get up to the big 
valve. That ship’ll be clinching 
in a minute.” 



"What does that sign mean?” 
said Henry, seizing the old 
man’s bony wrist. 

"Sign? Oh, there over the 
desk? I just put that there to con- 
fuse people. It’s a puzzle that 
spells out something in an old- 
time language, Latin maybe. 
Christian Huygens published 
that way back in 1655. He used 
a puzzle while he was checking 
some more. He was the first man 
to figure out what was around 
Saturn. It means something like, 
'There’s a flat ring that’s inclined 
to the ecliptic that circles the 
planet without touching it.’ Well, 
let go of me. I’ve got to see about 
that ship.” 

"Just stay here and be calm. 
Ran jit,” Henry said. 

"What?” 

"Be good, and you won’t get 
hurt.” 

"Get hurt? What are you talk- 
ing about, Henry? That’s no way 
to talk to a fellow that saved your 
life. If it hadn’t been for me, 
you’d still be falling. You were 
slower than the sweeper. I saved 
your life!” 

Henry blushed in sudden 
shame and released Ranjit’s arm. 
"Why, why, I — I guess you did!” 
he stammered. 

Henry lived in an era that had 
been preceded by wars which de- 
stroyed more than half the peo- 
ple of Earth. It was a time of 
rigidly controlled population, 
highly specialized training, and 



110 



INFINITY 



constantly increasing life ex- 
pectancy. Each human life was 
considered a distinct and invalu* 
able thing. Since the end of the 
final war, the Crime War, sev- 
enty years before, murder had 
become an obscene and almost 
meaningless word, and natural 
death was rarely mentioned. Sav- 
ing another person’s life was 
considered the most magnificent 
act that anyone could perform, 
and almost the only way to be- 
come a public hero, since actors, 
entertainers, policemen, and offi- 
cials were thought to be no bet- 
ter than anyone else. 

"I’m — I’m sorry,” Henry said, 
blushing until he perspired. 
"I’m all mixed up.” 

"That’s all right, Henry. You 
were out there a long time.” 
Something struck twice 
against the hull of the ice-sweep- 
er. "There’s a clumsy pilot!” 
Ranjit yelled. "I better go see 
what he’s trying to do.” 

"Wait,” Henry said, grabbing 
the old man’s arm again. "I — ” 
He stopped speid:ing and 
frowned in confusion. When he 
considered recent events, he 
realized that Vicenzo and Aziz, 
by their inexpert maneuvering, 
had almost caused him to pass 
beyond. All of Henry’s educa- 
tion, haphazard as it had been, 
emphasized the belief that a per- 
son who caused another to pass 
beyond could only be regarded 
with loathing. A person who 



saved a life must be treated with 
eternal gratitude and veneration 
by the beneficiary. 

Ranjit said, "Let’s go, Henry! 
What are you up to? I’ve had a 
feeling you ain’t exactly zeroed.” 

"I — I think I should tell you,” 
Henry said. 

"Listen. Somebody coming 
aboard,” Ranjit said, jerking his 
arm from Henry’s relaxed grip 
and facing the doorway in the 
netting. Henry waited for Vi- 
cenzo and Aziz to enter the com- 
partment. 

CHAPTER n 

T WO PEOPLE entered, but they 
were not Vicenzo and Aziz. 
The first was a small, thin man 
with a long, sad face. He wore a 
somber black oversuit. The sec- 
ond was a girl no older than 
Henry. 

"Please, Joachim,” the girl 
whispered, "don’t antagonize 
them. Ask about the fuel first.” 
Henry gaped at the girl, and 
his face grew hot. Since he had 
spent his young life among the 
Moons and Asteroids, never go- 
ing farther sunward than Pallas, 
he had seen few girls his own 
age and none as beautiful as this 
one. Her hair, dyed in tiger 
stripes of black and yellow, was 
parted in the middle and, held 
by silver wires, extended from 
the sides of her head like wings. 
She wore blue hose, silver fur 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



111 



shorts, and a golden sweater 
sparkling with designs in mir- 
ror thread. Metal-soled shoes too 
large for her feet slightly marred 
the total effect. 

"High,” said the man with the 
sad face. "I am Joachim, Second 
Vice-President of the SPRS. This 
is our Corresponding Secretary, 
Morna.” His deep voice rolled 
around the compartment as if the 
lower keys of aa orchestrana had 
been struck. 

"Low,” Ran jit responded. 

"I’m Ranjit, and this is Henry. 
Why dida’t you make an appoint- 
ment? The tanks are about empty, 
and you may have to wait sev- 
eral hours. What do you feed 
your atomics, water or hydrogen? 
It’ll be even longer if you need 
hydrogen. I haven’t done any 
electrolysis today. I wasn’t ex- 
pecting — Look at that girl, 
Henry! I’m 107 years old, but I 
can still appreciate a sight like 
that! I don’t see how a homely 
fellovij like you, Joachim, ever got 
such a luscious girl.” 

"Ours is strictly a business re- 
lationship,” said Morna with in- 
dignant formality. "We do need 
fuel, Ranjit. We planned to re- 
fuel on Dione, but the moon was 
not where Joachim thought it 
should be. If — ” 

"Later, Morna,” Joachim inter- 
rupted in a hollow voice. "I have 
come thirteen hundred million 
kilometers on a mission, and I 
intend to fulfill it! I represent the 

112 , 



SPRS. We have written to you, 
Ranjit, but you have never an- 
swered.” 

Ranjit said, "The SPRS? Oh, 
yeah, you’re the ones are always 
sending me spacemail. It’s about 
all I ever get, and I appreciate it. 
I don’t get much mail, out here, 
and I don’t see many people. 
This fellow here, Henry, was the 
first I’d seen in. days. I saved 
Henry’s life, or did he tell you?” 

"How wonderful!” Morna ex- 
claimed' in awe. "I’ve never 
spoken to a Saver before! Think 
of it, Joachim! Ranjit saved 
Henry!” 

"That is very nice,” Joachim 
admitted, "but — ” 

"You’re a hero!” Morna cried, 
seizing Ran jit’s hands. "How 
does it fed to be a Saver? It must 
be sublime!” She turned to Henry 
and grasped his arms. "How do 
you feel, Henry? You must al- 
most worship Ranjit! Such a 
noble man!” 

Ranjit cackled. "Look at him 
blush! I don’t believe he’s been 
around girls much. Since Joachim 
don’t have no claim on her, 
Henry, I’d do some sweet talking 
if I was your age. I pulled Henry 
in on a lifeline, or he’d be falling 
into the methane' by now.” 

"Isn’t that wonderful?” Morna 
marveled, smiling glamorously. 

Joachim said, "Everyone be 
quiet and allow me to finish! I 
have come thirteen hundred mil- 
lion kilometers on a mission, and 



INFINITY 




113 





I intend to fulfill it! lam Second 
Vice-President of the Society for 
the Preservation of the Rings of 
Saturn. You, Ran jit, and the peo- 
ple on the other three stations in 
the Rings are destroying the most 
glorious and inspiring feature of 
the Solar System! The divine pin- 
nacle of Creation! A miracle that 
may be unique in the Universe! 
You are destroying the Rings of 
Saturn for the greedy, selfish pur- 
pose of selling fuel to space- 
ships!” 

"Spaceships got to have fuel,” 
Ranjit said, "and don’t talk so 
loud. Ice is scarce, you know, un- 
less you want to chase comets. 
One side of lapetus has a sheet, 
and Titan has some. If you go 
on in, you’ll find a little on some 
of the Moons of Jupiter, and a 
few of the Asteroids are — ” 

Joachim said, "You are de- 
stroying the Rings of Saturn! 
This is the most despicable crime 
in a long history of the devasta- 
tion of nature by greedy men! 
When you have eventually melt- 
ed the last crystal of ice and 
departed with your hoard, Saturn 
will spin desolately alone through 
the night, shorn of his glorious 
halo that has been the solace and 
inspiration of man since prehis- 
toric times!” 

"Not when they never had 
telescopes, it wasn’t very inspir- 
ing,” Ranjit said. "I don’t see 
why you’re jumping on me, Joa- 
chim. I never answered your 



letters because there wasn’t noth- 
ing to say. I just work here. 
You’ll have to talk to the com- 
pany to — ” 

"The Saturnine Fuel and Oxy- 
gen Company is headed by stub- 
born men!” Joachim said. "They 
refuse to consider or answer our 
demands! That is why I have 
come to appeal directly to the 
operators of these ice-sweepers! 
You must immediately stop 
sweeping the Rings into your 
tanks! You must tell your supe- 
riors that you refuse to destroy 
the crowning glory of the Solar 
System!” 

Ranjit said, "They’d just hire 
somebody else. I don’t know as 
we are destroying the Rings very 
fast. This was the first sweeper 
put in orbit nine years ago, and 
I can’t tell no difference in Ring 
B. There’s an awful lot of stuff 
in the Rings. Some of the balls 
are solid ice, but some are just 
ice coated, so we melt it off and 
throw out the core. Some don’t 
have ice on it, so we throw it 
back. We don’t use hydroponics 
on the sweepers. We get plenty 
of oxygen when we take off 
hydrogen, so we toss a lot of solid 
COo overboard, too. No, we ain’t 
taking as much from the Rings 
as you think. They’ll get ionic 
motors to working, one of these 
days, and it won’t take hardly no 
fuel at all.” 

"Nevertheless, I believe — ” 
Joachim tried to say. 



114 



INFINITY 



"You’ve got a hard hull, any- 
how,” Ranjit said, "coming out 
here telling me to stop when you 
need fuel yourself. Supposing I 
stopped right now. How would 
you get away.^ And what would 
I do? I got a bad heart. About 
half of it’s artificial. That’s why 
I’ve been living under zero G for 
fifteen years. I can’t go back to 
Earth. The docs say more than 
four-tenths G would do for me. 
Before I got this job, I was living 
in a hulk orbiting around Titan, 
just waiting to pass beyond. Now 
I got something useful to do and 
something to live for. I may last 
till I’m 120.” 

Henry, who had been stupidly 
smiling at Morna with too much 
intensity to follow the discussion, 
jerked his head around and gasp- 
ed, "You, you can’t stand accel- 
eration?” 

Ranjit said, "Not enough to go 
anywhere. I got a bad heart, a 
very bad heart. About half of 
it’s—” 

Vicenzo and Aziz, spacesuited, 
crowded into the compartment 
through the doorway in the net- 
ting. "Dis is a stickup!” Aziz an- 
nounced over a loudspeaker on 
the chest of his suit. 

"Don’t move,” Vicenzo growl- 
ed, scowling beneath his black 
bangs. 

Since deadly weapons were 
extremely rare and difficult to 
obtain, the pair had armed them- 



selves with long, hand-made 
knives. Vicenzo also carried a 
cumbersome rocket launcher, a 
remodeled lifeline tube. 

"Gangsters!” Ranjit wheezed. 
"I ain’t seen a gangster in 
twenty years! I fought them in 
the Crime War! I — ” 

"Shut up, old man,” Vicenzo 
ordered. His sideburns twitched 
around his cruel mouth. "Every- 
thing fixed here, Henry?” 

"Are you into this, Henry?” 
Ranjit said. 

Vicenzo snarled, "I told you to 
shut up!” 

"Let me talk to you alone, Vi- 
cenzo,” Henry said. 

"Spill it now. Is this all the 
crew? Did you. smash communi- 
cations?” 

"Yes,” Henry admitted. "The 
old man is the crew. The others 
just came aboard.” 

"Why didn’t you fix the other 
ship?” Vicenzo said. "We had to 
clamp on, because it was blocking 
the valve. We came through it, 
and you hadn’t even smashed the 
radio. There might’ve been a 
crew aboard, for all you knew.” 
"Vicenzo’s a streak, kid,” Aziz 
said. The short, wide man’s sal- 
low face looked horrible behind 
the faceplate. "You oughta done 
like Vicenzo said,” he advised. 
"You won’t get nowhere goofin’ 
like dat or — Hey, take a check 
on the doll! I never thought to 
see nothin’ like dat on a sweep- 
er! Lucky me!” 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



115 



"She’s not in this,” Henry 
said. "She’s from the other ship. 
Leave her alone, Aziz.” 

"Don’t yap at me like dat, 
kid,” Aziz warned. 

Morna, who had stood as if 
frozen, turned to Henry and 
squealed, "You’re a gangster.^ 
How awful, after I thought you 
were nice, letting Ranjit save 
your life!” 

"Shut up, girl,” Vicenzo said. 

"A gangster!” Morna shriek- 
ed. She slapped Henry twice 
across the face, knocking his 
shoes loose from the magnetic 
deck. He flipped and fell against 
the net with his feet touching the 
ceiling. 

In the confusion, Joachim 
broke from his terrified trarxce 
and dived through the door. "I’ll 
get ’im!” Aziz roared and, wav- 
ing his knife, followed the fleeing 
Second Vice-President. 

As Henry struggled to regain 
an erect position, Morna wailed 
in his ear, "I thought you were 
good and handsome, but you’re 
a gangster! You didn’t deserve to 
be saved!” She slapped him 
again, knocking him to the deck, 
and began to weep wildly. Un- 
der no gravity, the tears spread 
in a film across her face. Sur- 
prised, she stopped crying* and 
wiped her cheeks with her 
hands. A few tears flew into the 
air as shimmering globes. 

Joachim floated into the com- 
partment. His long chin was 



bruised, and he muttered, "Save 
the Rings!” Aziz, grinning, fol- 
lowed and stood on guard before 
the door. Morna gasped, darted 
to her employer, and made help- 
less gestures. 

"All right, now,” Vicenzo 
said. "Let’s get this jaunt mov- 
ing. Henry, tie these cubes up 
and — ” 

"We can’t do it, Vicenzo,” 
Henry said, staring in horror at 
Joachim’s half -conscious body. 

"What?” 

Henry said, "It’s the old man. 
His heart’s bad. The acceleration 
would k-kill him!” 

"Dat’s the chance he’s gotta 
take,” Aziz sneered. 

"You mean you don’t care if 
you m-murder someone?” 

"It’s all in the orbit,” Vicenzo 
said. "I told you that when you 
clinched with us.” 

"I didn’t believe you,” Henry 
said. "You can’t hurt Ranjit! He 
saved my life!” 

"Dat’s what he was supposed 
to do, so’s ya could get aboard,” 
Aziz said. 

"But he really did save me! He 
pulled me in on a lifeline. I 
would.’ ve missed the' station. I 
wouldn’t be surprised if you two 
tried to m-murder me! I’m check- 
ing out. The whole deal’s off. 
Both of you get back in the ship 
and go! I’ll give you that much 
of a chance. I’ll stay here and take 
Re\'ision, or whatever’s coming 
to me.” 



11& 



INFINITY 



"The kid’s stripped his cogs,” 
Aziz laughed tlirough his loud- 
speaker. 

Vicenzo aimed his rocket 
launcher at Henry’s midriff. He 
growled, "Too bad you turned 
cube, Henry.” 

"Elon’t fire that thing in 
here!” Ranjit yelled. "You’ll 
blow a hole through the hull! 
What are you fellows up to? I 
never saw such mixed-up goings 
om 

Hbnry said, "They’re going 
to steal the ice-sweeper. That’s 
why I had to be taken aboard, so 
I could wreck your equipment 
and keep you from reporting us 
or calling the other stations. The 
sweeper is supposed to vanish 
without a trace. I’m sorry I 
ruined your radio, Ranjit. I was 
supposed to try to keep the crew 
from becoming suspicious while 
Vicenzo and Aziz were clinching. 
They’re going to move the sweep- 
er into a Sun orbit, somewhere, 
and use it for a base. They’re go- 
ing to hijack spaceships.” 

"Of all the crazy schemes!” 
Ranjit snorted. "You gangsters 
are space happy! You’re ready for 
the psychodocs! You can’t get 
away witli gangstering these 
days! I fought your grandfathers 
in the Crime War. I was in the 
Battle of Jupiter Orbit. We 
whipped you good, and nearly 
wiped you out, but, ever so often, 
a few of you still turn up and try 



silly stuff like this. Solar Govern- 
ment will get you!” 

Vicenzo said, "Shut up, old 
man! Aziz, hold the girl. If the 
rest of you don’t behave while 
I’m tying you, Aziz will stab 
her.” 

"Dat’d be a awful waste,” 
Aziz said, twisting Morna’s arms 
behind her back. Morna began to 
cry again. Teardrops floated like 
tiny planets. 

Vicenzo pulled a long cord 
from his pack and lifted Joachim 
with one hand. "Save the Rings,” 
Joachim mumbled. "You are dese- 
crating the glory of the Solar Sys- 
tem.” Vicenzo lashed Joachim’s 
wrists to an overhead pipe. 

Vicenzo said, "All right, 
Henry, you and the old man put 
your hands against that pipe.” 
Ranjit said, "I’m 107 years 
old, but never in my life — ” 
"I’m going to shut you up, if 
you don’t do it yourself,” Vi- 
cenzo promised. He secured Ran- 
jit beside Joachim and then 
started tying Henry’s wrists to 
the pipe. 

"Be careful what you do to 
the sweeper, Vicenzo,” Henry 
begged. "Ranjit was telling me 
how dangerous it is. If anything 
causes the velocity to drop, we’ll 
fall on Saturn.” 

"You think I’m stupid? That’s 
the way with anything in an or- 
bit. The closer to a planet, the 
faster you’ve got to go. Bring the 
girl, Aziz.” 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



117 



CHAPTER in 

M orn A struggled and kick- 
ed the spacesuits while 
Vicenzo tied her next to Henry. 
Aziz said, "You think there’s 
really a chance of us failin’? I’d 
hate to plop in all that methane.’’ 
"No,” said Vicenzo. "Old 
man, where’s the control room? 
We’re moving this whole station 
with the two ships clamped on.” 
"Hadn’t we oughta put some 
water in our tanks, in case we 
gotta scram quick?” Aziz asked. 
"They’re about empty.” 

Ranjit chuckled. "You’ll have 
to wait four hours to tank up. I 
just got the heater going a while 
ago. There’s an SG ship due in 
soon. You better give up.” 
"You’re lying in strings!” Vi- 
cenzo said. "You must have fuel 
for the sweeper’s motors. 
Where’s the control room?” 

"I ain’t saying.” 

"He’ll tell,” Aziz gloated, rais- 
ing his knife. 

"We can find it quicker,” Vi- 
cenzo said and turned away. Aziz 
followed him through the door. 

"What?” Joachim muttered. 
"Where? The gangsters!” He 
stared around the compartment 
and cried, "There is one! Henry 
is a gangster! You are also, Ran- 
jit! I have long suspected that 
the destruction of the Rings of 
Saturn could only be the work 
of gangsters! No one — Morna! 
Are you injured?” 



"No,” Morna blubbered. 
"Stay away from me, Henry!” 
One of her wings of black and 
yellow hair had fallen over her 
face. 

"Sorry,” Henry said, blushing 
and moving his legs. "I didn’t 
notice which way I was drifting.” 

Joachim said, "Where are the 
other gangsters? Have they gone 
to steal my ship? It is rented! The 
SPRS would never recover if we 
had to pay for the ship!” 

"Let’s figure some way to get 
loose,” Ranjit suggested. "Those 
fellows won’t find the control 
room out there. No motors, any- 
how, but all they’ve got to do is 
wait till enough fuel melts and 
use their ship to move the sweep- 
er. Think how that’d look on my 
record.” 

"You said* an SG ship would 
be here in a few minutes,” Morna 
objected. 

"I was just telling them that. 
There’s no ship due for two 
days.” 

"You actually told a false- 
hood?” Morna gasped. 

Ranjit said, "When you get to 
be my age, you’ll find you can 
do lots of things they didn’t 
teach in school. How’d you clinch 
up with two fellows like them, 
Henry? They’re space happy, 
both of them. Didn’t you have 
no education?” 

"Not much,” Henry said. "Me 
and my parents were shipwrecked 
in the Asteroids when I was only 



118 



INFINITY 



ten. Mother tried to teach me 
Honesty, and Morality, and all 
the rest, but it didn’t take very 
well. We were there eight years 
before we were picked up. They 
put me in school, then, with a 
bunch of kids. I didn’t like it, 
so I skipped and worked in the 
mines on Titan. Then I got 
mixed up with Vicenxo and Aziz. 
This is the first job I’ve pulled 
with them.” 

"At least you changed your 
mind and tried to stop it,” Ran- 
jit said, tugging at his bonds. 

"The snips!’’ Henry exclaimed. 
"There’s a pair of snips in my 
side pocket. Maybe you can reach 
them, Ranjit, if I — No, they’re 
on the wrong side. Morna, will 
you try to get them if I can put 
my, uh, pocket next to your 
hand?” 

"Stay away from me,” Morna 
said. 

"You’ve got to.” Henry braced 
his feet against the deck and 
pushed, bending his knees as his 
weightless body flew into the air. 
He twisted, and the side of his 
left leg struck the ceiling. Shov- 
ing with his toe, he forced his 
contorted body back toward the 
pipe. "There!” he grunted. "Can 
you reach them?” 

Morna said, "I don’t know. 
My wrists are tied so tight.” Her 
hand touched Henry’s hip and 
sent him swinging in the oppo- 
site direction. His legs stopped 
across Ran) it’s chest. The old man 



lowered his head and butted 
Henry back toward Morna. 

"Oh, get out of my face!” 
Morna complained. 

Henry lay against the ceiling 
with his legs bent, his back 
bowed, and his left elbow 
pressed against his lower ribs. 
Morna’s hand fluttered at his 
pocket. "I’ve got — No, it’s a 
screwdriver,” she said. "Now, 
I’ve got the snips!” 

"Don’t drop them,” Henry 
pleaded. He thrust his feet back 
to the deck. "Try to cut the line 
around my wrist. Ow! That’s my 
hand!” 

"Be brave!” Morna jeered 
nervously. "Now it’s under the 
cord. I cut one!” 

Henry tvdsted his wrist in the 
loosened cord and pulled his left 
hand free. He said, "Thanks. 
Give me the snips.” 

Morna said, "Promise to cut 
me down first. I don’t want to 
be tied with you loose.” 

Henry snatched the snips 
from her and cut the line bind- 
ing his right hand. Morna said, 
"Gangster trick. ” 

"Hurry up, Henry,” Ranjit 
said. '"Those fellows will be 
coming back.” 

Henry released Ranjit and 
Joachim. "Cut me loose!” Morna 
yelled. 

"Not so loud,” Henry said, 
freeing her. "Go up in the con- 
trol room, Ranjit. You told me 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



119 



you still had flywheel steering. If 
it won’t hurt you, you can make 
them think you’re decelerating. 
It’ll confuse them, at least.” 
"Yeah,” Ran jit chuckled, 

"that’s a bright idea. I was about 
to think of it myself.” 

Henry said, "Morna, you go 
with Ranjit. Joachim, you stay 
with me, and we’ll waylay them. 
We’ll find something for weap- 
ons.” 

Ranjit pulled the sandwich 
bunk down on its rods, crouched 
on the bunk, and pushed open 
the overhead hatch. Joachim 
said, "I do not intend to engage 
in a brawl with gangsters. Come, 
Morna, let us take our chances in 
our own ship. We — ” 

"I hear them out there!” Henry 
said. 

Joachim squeaked, bounded to 
the bunk, and sprang through 
the hatch. "Bet he bumped his 
head,” Ranjit hoped. "Up you 
go, Morna. Strap yourself to a 
couch.” 

Morna climbed on the bunk 
and through the hatch. Ranjit 
followed. "It’s a trick,” Morna 
said. "He’ll be alone with his 
gangster friends.” 

"There’s a set of spanner 
wrenches right there in the net,” 
Ranjit said, pointing. "There’s a 
roll of wire over yonder.” He 
closed the hatch. 

Henry raised the bunk back 
to the ceiling. He fumbled in the 



accumulation behind the netting, 
throwing out a case of canned 
beans, a one-volume encyclope- 
dia, a bundle of papers, and a 
broken clock. He found the 
wrenches and selected a large one 
half a meter long. He .searched 
again, pulled out a coil of elec- 
tric cable, and stuffed it under 
his belt. Jumping across the 
compartment, he clung to the net 
above the door. 

Vicenzo and Aziz had not 
turned off their loudspeakers. 
"Nothing but tanks and ladder- 
chutes,” Vicenzo was saying. 
"There has to be a control room 
somewhere. ” 

Aziz said, "Maybe there’s an- 
other door behind all the junk 
in there. I’ll get it outta the old 
man.” 

As Vicenzo’s spacesuited fig- 
ure appeared below in the door- 
way, Henry swaing his arm. The 
spanner clanged against the back 
of Vicenzo’s helmet. The man 
tumbled across the compartment 
into the netting. The rocket 
launcher whirled from his hands, 
.struck the ceiling, and bounced 
to the deck. 

Slashing upward with his 
knife, Aziz twisted into the com- 
partment. Henry met the thrust 
with the spanner and knocked 
the knife from the squat man’s 
hand. Aziz bellowed, "Ya greasy 
cube! I’ll squash ya!” 

Aziz swung his gauntleted fist. 
Henry' struck Aziz across the arm 



120 



rNFINITY 



with the spanner, denting the 
metal of the spacesuit. Vicenzo 
jerked his head from a box and 
roared, "Get him! He busted my 
skull!” 

Henry jumped from the net 
to the corner beside the desk. 
The two men slowly stalked him. 
Vicenzo had his knife, and Aziz 
experimentally flexed his metal- 
sheathed hands. 

"We’re going to fix you, 
Henry,” Vicenzo promised. 
"You’re just a little smarter 
than you should be.” 

"He ain’t smart atall,” Aziz 
growled. "What for did ya want 
to turn cube, Henry? I told ya 
yer name’d be in ever’ yap, if ya 
stuck with us. Now, nobody’ll 
know ya when I get done. ” 

Henry debated with himself, 
trying to decide if the situation 
justified a falsehood. He said, 
"Get away while you can! Ranjit 
says he’ll crash this sweeper be- 
fore he’ll let you steal it! He’s 
in the control room now.” 

Aziz stopped and glanced 
around. "Ya think he will?” he 
asked. 

"No,” Vicenzo said. He cir- 
cled to Henry’s left. 

Henry raised the spanner and 
kept his eyes on Vicenzo’s knife. 
Aziz moved to Henry’s right. 
The deck seemed to tilt. Henry 
clutched a leg of the desk to keep 
from falling. 

Vicenzo and Aziz, waving 
their arms, leaned at an increas- 



ingly acute angle. Their boots 
broke from the magnetic deck. 
They fell slowly, accelerating at 
about two meters per second, and 
dropped into the netted wall 
which had become the floor. 

Henry dangled below what 
was now the ceiling. Objects fell 
from the net beside him. Tools, 
machine parts, books, and canned 
food slowly showered down on 
Vicenzo and Aziz, who thrashed 
and swore in the growing junk 
heap. 

"We’re deceleratin’!” Aziz 
yelled. "That old man really is 
gonna kill us! We’ll crash on 
Saturn!” 

"That hatch over the bunk!” 
Vicenzo said as he tried to stand. 
"That’s where they went! The 
control room!” A box of cans 
emptied over his helmet. 

"We’re failin’!” Aziz yelled. 
"It’s forcin’ us to the front of 
the station! Let’s get out!” He 
stumbled through the litter to- 
ward the airvalve which was now 
up one wall. 

Vicenzo said, "Look out that 
window! The stars are streaking! 
He’s just spinning the sweeper! 
It’s centrifugal force!” 

"It’s deceleration!” Aziz in- 
sisted, jumping at the airvalve. 
The dismantled teletype slipped 
from its clamps and fell on the 
man’s head. He slid back down 
the wall. 

Beside Henry, the net broke 
loose. A slow, miscellaneous 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



121 



rain, including two sandwich 
bunks and part of a spaceship 
landing leg, fell on Vicenzo and 
Aziz. Henry felt the desk slip- 
ping. He dropped on his feet in 
the clutter. The desk clattered 
down beside him. 

Stumbling and staggering, 
Henry reached Vicenzo, who 
struggled under a bunk, a plastic 
packing case, part of a pump, 
and a bundle of tubing. Henry 
took the electric cable from his 
belt and formed a loop. He drew 
the loop tight around Vicenzo’s 
arms. Vicenzo pushed the case 
off his legs and tried to stand. 
Henry flipped the cable around 
and around Vicenzo and bound 
his arms to his sides. 

“Get him, Aziz!” Vicenzo 
called in rage. Henry tied Vicen- 
zo’s feet together and cut off. the 
remaining cable with his snips. 

Aziz had grasped the frame of 
the airvalve and was trying to 
slide the door open. Henry se- 
lected a battered oxygen tank 
from the heap, lifted it in both 
hands, and hurled it. The missile 
caught Aziz across the back of 
his spacesuit. He fell into the 
jumbled equipment on the floor. 
Quickly, Henry repeated his 
looping and tying operations. 
Then he sat on an empty trunk 
and tried to slow his rapid 
breathing. 

"Le’me go, Henry!” Aziz 
demanded, somewhat dazed. 



"We’re failin’!” Henry opened 
the switch on the spacesuit’s 
loudspeaker. 

The bunk in the wall that had 
been the ceiling unfolded, and 
Ranjit’s wrinkled face peeped 
through the exposed hatch. 
“What a mess!” he chuckled. 
“Things wasn’t fastened down 
like they should of been. Of 
course, it never needed to be be- 
fore. I never knowed — ” 

“How are you standing the 
gravity?” Henry panted. 

“It’s just tv'o-tenths G,” Ran- 
jit said. "Hang on, and I’ll take 
us back to no weight. This old 
sweeper’s spinning like a top.” 
Ranjit’s head withdrew. Henry 
tried to find a handhold in the 
pile of material. His feet left the 
tangle. Accompanied by assorted 
items, including the bound fig- 
ures of Vicenzo and Aziz, he 
floated in the air. 

Twisting, Henry placed his 
feet on the magnetized deck. Ob- 
jects containing steel settled 
around him. He pulled Vicenzo 
and Aziz down, and, as Vicenzo 
began to curse in ancient terms, 
silenced his loudspeaker also. 

Joachim appeared clutching his 
stomach. “I shall wait in my ship 
for the fuel,” he gagged, dodg- 
ing a floating chest, “away from 
this criminal madhouse!” 

Morna and Ranjit dropped 
into the compartment. Ranjit 
kicked aside a crate and said, 
“Good, Henry. I guess you saved 



122 



INFINITY 



our lives, or mine anyhow. Those 
fellows would have passed me 
beyond if they had accelerated 
the sweeper, and you sure kept 
them from stealing it.” 

"He did all right for a gang- 
ster,” said Morna on her way to 
the door. 

"Wait, Morna, please,” said 
Henry. He blushed a bright red. 
"Won’t, won’t I ever see you 
again?” 

"Why would I want to see a 
gangster again?” 

Ranjit said, "He’s not much 
of a gangster, and he changed 
his mind. Of course, those two 
will tell about his part in this, 
and Joachim’s sure to report it. 
SG will ship you to Earth, Henry, 
for Revision, but that won’t be 



too bad, just a sort of school, and 
you’re good as Revised already, 
the way you acted.” 

Henry looked at Morna. "I’d 
like to go to Earth,” he said. 

"Tell you what,” Ranjit said. 
"It’ll be three hours before 
there’s enough fuel for Joachim’s 
ship. Why don’t you two go up 
to the dome and see the sights, 
and forget all this? We’ll be pass- 
ing into the Shadow in about ten 
minutes, and you’ll see one of 
the prettiest things there is, Sat- 
urn from the dark side. The 
atmosphere looks like a gold rain- 
bow above the Rings.” 

Morna stared at the deck. The 
corners of her mouth curved up- 
ward. She said, "I’m sorry I slap- 
ped you, Henry.” 



00 00 00 



TALES FOR TOMORROW 

Next issue, of course, you’ll find the second big installment of Rich- 
ard Wilson’s And Then the Town Took Off. It’s even funnier than 
the first half, and it’s tremendously exciting, too. No matter how 
much guessing you do, you’ll still be surprised when you learn how 
and why Superior, Ohio, was suddenly levitated — and you’ll feel like 
levitating yourself as you watch the various forces involved choose 
up sides and throw punches at each other. Everybody wants to get 
into the act — and the act becomes an all-star science-fictional comedy! 

The rest of the line-up will be all-star, too. There will be a new’ 
novelet by Robert Silverberg on a new theme, one that’s exceedingly 
timely as the world grows smaller and we reach for the stars. There 
will be a titillating story by Robert Sheckley with an unusual kind of 
hero and a heroine like none you’ve ever met before; this one might 
be described as girl-chases-boy — but what a girl! And there will be 
stories by Algis Budrys and others as well. Remember, it’s Infinity, 
The Magazine of TomorrownesSi on sale December 26! 



OUTSIDE SATURN 



123 



TOMORROWNESS 

{Continued from page 53) 



died, or trying to mislead the 
rest of us, or something? 

Mostly, I think these people 
are looking for something in 
science fiction that isn’t there, 
never was there, and isn’t sup- 
posed to be there. 

Some of them, having decided 
that great literature is "better” 
than science fiction, have drawn 
a false conclusion from that 
"fact.” And the conclusion isn’t 
just that science fiction ought to 
be great literature, which would 
be silly enough. No, what they’ve 
decided is that anything that 
isn’t great literature (by their 
standards) can’t possibly be 
science fiction either. 

Sure, it would be nice if sci- 
ence fiction achieved literary 
greatness occasionally. But does 
that mean that every story is re- 
quired to do so, in order to qual- 
ify as science fiction? 

Silly, isn’t it? 

Then, of course, there are the 
"sense of wonder” boys, who 
have lost something they usdd to 
have, and have decided that the 
lack is in science fiction, not 
themselves. And the "lost cause” 
boys — those who used to fight to 
make science fiction popular and 
\\'ho, now that it is popular, have 
nothing to fight any more and so 
turn to fighting science fiction it- 



self. And the boys who jumped 
on the wrong bandwagon or the 
right bandwagon at the wrong 
time, lost some money on science 
fiction, and are sore about it. And 
maybe others I haven’t classified 
yet. 

I could go on and on about 
how wrong they are, but I won’t. 
I’ll simply say instead that I can 
see a very lively science fiction 
kicking up its heels all around 
me. I like it, and I think it’s 
wiser to try to kick with it than 
to go off in a corner and sulk 
because it isn’t all perfect. 

Science fiction is still alive and 
still the best form of entertain- 
ment I know. And the best part 
is, it’s going to be even better 
tomorrow. If it changes, that’s 
only to be expected. We of all 
people should anticipate and 
adapt to changes. Change isn’t 
death. 

Infinity will not only try to 
change with the times, it will try 
to stay a step ahead of them. It 
will also try to have fun doing 
so. And to express this attitude, 
we’ve decided to call Infinity 
"The Magazine of Tomorrow- 
ness.” 

Tomorrow isn’t going to be 
perfect, but it’s going to be bet- 
ter. So is science fiction. 

Are you with it? — LTS 



724 



INFINITY 



Feedback 






R e Art Coulter’s letter in 
Oct. Infinity "Feedback”: 

So your anticipatory delight 
turned to anger and disgust when 
you read Damon Knight’s column. 
Well, perhaps Knight also feels an- 
ger and disgust over many of the 
stories he reviews. And possibly he 
does keep his critic’s razor honed a 
bit more sharply than other critics 
do. But surely this may be allowed 
him as an individual whose other 
traits and capabilities shine so 
brightly. You will note that he also 
keeps a keen edge on his sincerity, 
perception and fluency. Be happy 
for his obvious talents and fret less 
over his refusal to become a sweet- 
talkin’ Little Sir Comlocution. 
Diplomacy and euphemistic side- 
stepping can become a disease, often 
ending in the sad prognosis down- 
right hypocrisy. 

In view of your apparent desire 
to get Knight to "Try a little milk 
of human kindness . . .” some of 
your phrases arc ill chosen. Indeed 
they appear to partake of those 
same qualities for which you chide 
Knight. I refer to: “the boil who 
writes like a man,” and "Knight is 
no critic. He’s God,” and "reliev- 
ing an ianate sadism by means of 
a poisoned pen,” and “should be 
psychoanalyzed.” Then you justify 
such on the basis of simple retalia- 
tion. Of course, if getting even is 




the main idea why go to it, say it 
out sharp and clear as is certainly 
your right. But if you really are 
concerned to "tone down” Knight’s 
style, I predict complete failure for 
your present modus operand!. 
Doubtless Knight will simply con- 
sider your critical fireworks in the 
light of a challenge to invent better 
ones to use in his column ! But 
anyhow, all’s well that ends in 
Infinity. I like Infinity and I 
like Knight’s column, strings at- 
tached. — Keith Nelson, 1133 Green 
Street, Marietta, Ohio. 

00 

Latest (Oct ’57) Infy at hand. 
I still don’t see the fuss about the 
Vance story. When I read it I 
wasn’t sure whetlier I liked it or 
not, since there was practically 
nothing to compare it with. Hardly 
the violent reaction you said we’d 
get. '(Ah. but I got a violent reac- 
tion from the readers; witness the 
new look in "Feedback.” — LTS ) A 
friend of mine made a point of 
asking me about the story, and 
found we had the same feeling. 
Astra to the contrary, the story was 
science fiction, and Franklin to the 
contrary, it wasn’t a potboiler. 
Briney calls for comparison with 
"The Mitr,” which appeared in the 
first issue of the now-dead and 



FEEDBACK 



125 



hardly-missed Vortex. I looked up 
my copy of that issue and reread 
the story. The biggest similarity is 
in the style, whicli is one that 
Vance seldom uses. "The Mitr” 
wasn’t as unsuccessful as all that, 
and actually it and "The Men Re- 
turn” aren’t too similar outside of 
stylistic approach. 

Interesting that Coulter hollers 
about knight in the same issue that 
damon is most kindly disposed to 
books. 

Stories. Now that Kornbluth . . . 
that was Kornbluth??? Now this is 
how you should do things. Instead 
of playing up stories big with brass 
bands and infinity-plusses, just put 
one in quietly and let the reader 
find out for himself. I was skeptical 
about the Vance because of the 
buildup. Cyril’s little thing has left 
me completely shook. {Not shaken, 
Larry.) I don’t think he has ever 
done anything like this before, and 
I certainly didn’t expect to ever see 
him do it in the future after his 
announcement last year that he was 
leaving the field. Kornbluth is a 
craftsman, and it’s wonderful that 
he changed his mind. As for 
TLMLITB, it gave me the violent 
reaction I didn’t get from the 
Vance, but I have to sit on it for a 
while to figure out what I think. 

Beside it, the Wellen attempt in 
the same vein was pale and mean- 
ingless. 

Simak’s "Death Scene” is most 
carefully done and sensitive in 
handling. I liked it. 

Wilson’s little vignette gives the 
same effect to me as Matheson’s 
"Witch War,” though the subject 
matter is vastly different. 



"Second Census” was all right. 
Peterson doesn’t seem to put 
much substance into his stories. 

The last two of Clarke’s six bits 
are the best of the lot. The fifth 
one especially. Most of it was a 
run-of-the-mill boy-girl tale, and I 
think it was set up that way on pur- 
pose to contrast the short climax 
and the one-line kicker. 

Both novelets were good. Gar- 
rett is talented enough to turn a 
worn idea into a decent story. 

In sum one of the better issues 
of Infinity. — J. Martin Graetz, 
307 South 52nd Street, Omaha 3, 
Nebraska. 

00 

I would be very happy if Infin- 
ity could help me with a survey. I 
am trying to find out what the read- 
ers hold are their favorite novels 
(recent). If they will send me a 
list of ten, I will tally the results 
and send them back to you as soon 
as possible. I am doing this only 
with Infinity as I know it has 
more than enough readers to make 
this project a success. 

Here is my list of ten favorites: 

1. End of Eternity (Asimov) 

2. The City and the Stars 
(Clarke) 

3. Foundation and Empire 
(Asimov) 

4. The Stars My Destination 
(Bester) 

5. Timeliner (Maine) 

6. Fawns of Null-A (Van Vogt) 

7. Eye in the Sky (Dick) 

8. What Mad Universe? {Erov/n) 

9. The Stars Like Dust (Asimov) 

10. Sands of Mars (Clarke) 

INFINITY 



126 



I would appreciate it very much 
if you were to print this letter. — 
Michael Solomon, 2441 Laurel- 
hurst Drive, University Heights, 
Ohio. 

00 

Which do I believe ? On the 
cover of tlie October Infinity it 
says now monthly, and good for 
you if so, but at the bottom of the 
contents page it is six-weekly. 

As for the interior, the best story 
was Garrett’s (by the way, wasn’t 
he on "Twenty-One” a few months 
ago.?) followed by McLaughlin, 
Peterson, Clarke, Simak, Wilson, 
and Kornbluth. Wellen was a little 
shaky this trip. Kornbluth’s style 
was too disjointed and rambling. 

Garrett’s "hero” did not go 
quite far enough to make me hate 
him. In fact I got quite a kick out 
of him. I liked Emsh’s cover, and 
I still say Leland Hale’s likeness is 
familiar. I am anxious to read the 
sequel to Mr. Blish’s enjoyable 
travelogue. 

Only a couple of paragraphs re- 
lating to precognition placed Clif- 
ford Simak’s story in the science 
fiction category, but I read it twice 
anyway. — Bill Murphy, 207 South 
Andre, Saginaw, Michigan. 

00 

Kornbluth’s "The Last Man in 
the Bar” couldn’t have sickened me 
more. I like abstracts and impres- 
sionistic writings such as this when 
they’re done well, but this was pure 
tripe — ^utter nonsense pouring forth 
from the deep dank subconscious 

FEEDBACK 



of Kornbluth’s mind. There was 
nothing to the story — nothing 
"grim” and nothing "funny.” And 
before I tried to solve the problem 
of the hero in this story, I first had 
to solve the problem of the reader: 
What the hell is this? Let’s hope 
you don’t accept such material in 
the future, if written by "names” 
or not. 

Completely opposite to the en- 
tertainment value of the aforemen- 
tioned story, "Welcome Home” 
was an exceptional novelet, the 
most outstanding asset being the 
beautiful writing talent of Dean 
McLaughlin. As so few stories do 
at the present time, it kept my in- 
terest page by page so that the end- 
ing came all too quickly. The story 
calls for a sequel, undoid^tedly. 
(Undoubtedly.— LIS) 

Wellen’s short was short and 
fairly sweet. Not up to his past 
writing by any means. 

And, di, this beautiful mood- 
piece by Simak i That man can 
write! I’ve never seen an ending 
brought over with such effect since 
Clarke’s "The Star” ! Possibly the 
best in the issue. 

The accompanying illo to "Death 
Scene” was typical of Orban’s work 
of the early ’50s, completely unlike 
his current work. Hope he reverts 
back to his earlier and most beauti- 
ful style. 

'The three Clarke shorts were of 
course highly enjoyed. This series 
tops Clarke’s White Hart series by 
a long shot and I truly hope that 
he devotes more time to this sort 
of writing than to Harry Purvis. 
Wouldn’t it be terrific if Clarke 
could turn out many more stories 

127 



such as this completely describing 
the exploration of the Solar System 
and finally the stars? Would be a 
science fiction reader’s dream. 

Wilson’s "The Enemy’’ was 
similar to Wellen’s short as it was 
short with humorous twist ending. 

Garrett’s "To Make a Hero’’ 
could not have been more enjoyed. 
The plot was minutely worked out, 
the writing handled extremely well, 
and the characterization completely 
without flaw. One of Garrett’s very 
best and I do hope you get many 
more no\'elets and short novels 
from him. He’s a real writer. 

"Second Census” by Peterson 
was written humorously but the 
overall plot was a bit illogical. 
Wouldn’t say "far-fetched” as that 
is just not a word in the science fic- 
tion world but illogical it was. I 
doubt very seriously if the three men 
would completely leave their home 
on which they had spent their en- 
tire life to fight a galactic war 
which they knew nothing about. 
(You mean you wouldn’t? — LIS) 

I agree with you wholeheartedly 
on Infinity’s flexibility. To set a 
certain type of story standard would 
not be smart as good writing can 
come from all types and of course 
Infinity wants only good writing. 
Keep your standards high when 
pertaining to good writing and gen- 
eral overall quality, but as for 
length and themes, set no limit. 
And tills goes for serials, too. And 
since series would practically call 
for a monthly schedule, this is a 
round-about way of saying Go 
Monthly which I’m sure you’ll do 
in the near future. Serials will real- 
ly set Infinity permanently in the 

128 



Big Five if not the Big 'Three. 

I hope you continue the small- 
type practice in the lettercol. 'This 
follows in the tradition of the old 
pulps which all true fen miss. A 
lettercol which can fit in more let- 
ters will just naturally entice more 
readers to write, knowing that 
there is a bigger chance of getting 
their letters printed. And since the 
small type guarantees a greater 
number of letters, controversies 
can be viewed from all sides with 
five to maybe ten letters instead of 
two or three as has been the past 
policy of "Feedback.” Personally, I 
wish the whole magazine could be 
printed in this small type but of 
course that would call for more fic- 
tion to be printed which would be 
all right with the readers but 
rather hard on the olde budget. 
(Hard on the eyes, too. — LTS) 

Art Coulter goes overboard on 
damon knight and rather hysteri- 
cally at that. Knight does a fine job 
of reviewing — a job of reviewing 
that any other competent reviewer 
would be expected to do. When he 
sees a book he likes, he says so; he 
doesn’t condemn everything as one 
who reads your letter would be led 
to believe. If he dislikes a book, he 
says so and unlike most reviewers, 
he’ll give the exact reason why 
which is highly commendable as 
this shows he knows exactly what 
he’s talking about and can think 
clearly. With Larry Shaw’s permis- 
sion, I’d like to refer you to a Rob- 
ert Lowndes editorial of Future 
Science Fiction #32 in which Bob 
says that criticism is more destruc- 
tive if you don’t speak what you 
think about the novel; if you go 

INFINITY 



easy on the author merely for the 
sake of his ego, you’ll make him 
feel better, and feeling better he’ll 
turn out more books of the same 
type, which will be just as bad as 
the book the reviewer was easy on. 
Criticism of a novel is not to sat- 
isfy the critic’s own eccentricities 
but it is to show the author what 
is wrong with his novel and tvhy. 
And damon knight does an excel- 
lent job of this, as I’m sure any- 
one will agree. — Bill Meyers, 4301 
Shawnee Circle, Chattanooga 11, 
Tennessee. 

00 

Every story in this issue of Infin- 
ity is good, fairly good, or extra 
good, but nothing alarming with 
the possible exception of the Korn- 
bluth story. Since it is by Korn- 
bluth, I plan to read it again some 
bright day of an early hour when 
my strength is up more. To figure 
it out better, you know. 

Time travel stories are too close 
to fantasy at best, and it does seem 
to me that this time Cyril skun too 
close and went through to the 
wrong side. I wouldn’t fight the 
point. But if this is science fiction, 
then it is certaitily a nonselling 
type. 

Yet, on this point of what sells 
and what doesn’t: consider the salt 
of the earth. Almost everybody 
wants a pinch in the stew. But from 
too much, you get sick — supposing 
you can get it down. Hence an all- 
fantasy magazine is too salty. But 
all sf has some fantasy as an in- 
gredient; and an occasional story 
like "Last Man in the Bar’’ is good 



fun and added zest. I do like the 
way you combine a variety of 
stories into a well-built total, per 
book. 

However, can’t you do some- 
thing about accuracy.^ Perhaps it is 
just a necessary weakness to go with 
all that scope. If so, nobody is en- 
titled to be sore at you about it, and 
you mustn’t be sore at any true 
friends who tip you off where to 
lock the barn door after the horse- 
laugh is out. 

Personally, I shall specialize in 
your artwork, because somebody 
should. Most of the pix were safe 
and all were nice looking, but the 
Emsh job on "To Make a Hero’’ is 
a find-the-mistakes puzzle. He has 
the two men in knee-length robes 
which the author calls "long” and 
girdled with twisted ropes vs. au- 
thor’s "braided”; wearing scraggly 
chintufts in defiance of the author’s 
claim that they wore heavy but 
neatly-trimmed beards; and where- 
as in words they wore neatly- 
combed short-cut hair, in the pic- 
ture their heads are shaved, "rhe 
hero is described as decidedly 
chunky in appearance; the artist 
knows much better, has drawn him 
very slim. ( But — Garrett wrote 
"big,” not chunky, and said Emsh 
had captured Hale exactly when he 
saw the illustration. — UTS) Nor is 
this all? See that coastline sketched 
in so nicely? Dead ringer for the 
white cliffs of Dover, eh ? But what 
does the author say, hanh? Page 75, 
column one, line 3, to wit, "Geo- 
logically young, craggy,” and do 
those formations look geologically 
young to you? For chalk, you have 
to have a planet with life e\-olved 



FEEDBACK 



129 



a few million years prior, hanh ? So 
maybe those cliffs are coral? Same 
objection. Or sandstone? That’s not 
a primary rock formation by an era 
or so either, is it? And no matter 
what those nice, smooth, eroded 
cliffs are made of, answer me this: 
are they craggy? 

Here is the Hill Theory on why 
Fantasy Don’t Sell. Like this: if it 
would be fun if possible, but alas 
impossible, that’s fantasy and a sad 
basis to proceed on, whereas if 
maybe it could be so, and if so then 
what, there we have the science fic- 
tion idea. The difference between 
possibility and impossibility is the 
difference between a strong selling 
point and a weak one. None the 
less, the borderline is often a 
danged thin one, especially when 
you consider that in most cases it’s 
still not being done, however plaus- 
ible and scientific the basis of the 
big if — so that strictly speaking, 
none of it is possible here and now. 

Exploring this demarcation along 

00 00 

STATEMENT REQUIRED BY TUB ACT OP 
AUGUST 24. 1912, AS AMENDED BY THE ACTS 
OP MARCH 3. 1933. AND JULY 2. 1940 (Title 39. 
United States Code, Section 233) SHOWING TDB 
OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT, AND CIRCULA- 
TION OF INFINITY Science Fiction, published 
monthly except Feb., Aug., Sept., at New York 1, 

N, Y.. for October 1, 1957. 

1. The names and addresses of the publisher, edi- 
tor, managing editor, and business managers are: 
Publisher. Irwin Stein, 11 West 42nd SU, N, Y. C. 

36; Editor, Larry T. Sliaw, il West 42nd St., N. Y. 

C. 3C ; Managing editor, Helen Skalet. 11 West 42nd 
8t., N. Y. 0. 36; Business manager, Nwe. 

2. The owner Is; (If wvned by a corporation, its 
name and address must be stated and also immedi- 
ately thereunder tho names and addresses of stock- 
holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total 
amount of stock. If not owned by a corporation, the 
names and addresses of the individual owners must 
be given. If owned by a partnership or other unin- 
corporated tlrra, its name and address, as well as that 
of each individual member, must be given.) Royal 
Publications. Inc., 11 West 42nd St.. N. Y. C. 36; 
Irwin Stein. 11 West 42nd St., N. Y. C. 36; Helen 
Stein. 11 West 42nd St.. N. Y. C. 36; Seth J. Solo- 
mon. 11 West 42nd St., N, Y. C. 36. 

3. Tho kfiown bondlioldcrs, mongageei, and other 



its edges, we can see that the ques- 
tion is therefore not whether it’s a 
possible thing or not, but rather 
whether it’s a plausible thing or 
not. How many people can be per- 
suaded to believe in it — how many 
want to believe in it. Lots of true 
things are perfectly implausible. 

Another point. 'Thanks a million 
for refusing to try to settle any 
Truths About Flying Saucers. It 
does seem as if there are so many 
better things to do than settle ques- 
tions without any information to 
settle with. Let one of those things 
fly up and identify itself, and I’ll 
be in a position to discuss it. What 
makes folks so .anxious to come to 
conclusions about insufficient infor- 
mation? To me that’s just the 
opposite of lienee fiction. Science 
fiction is frankly crazy, and that’s 
why I like it. Personally, I buy fan- 
tasy too, but then. I’m so far gone 
that to me, anything’s possible. — 
Alma Hill, 14 Pleasant Street, Fort 
Kent, Maine. 

00 

security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more 
of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other secur- 
ities are: (If there are none, so state.) None. 

4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 include, in cases where the 
stockholder or security holder appears upon the bodm 

the company as trustee or In any other fiduciary 
relation, the name of Uio person or corporatiwi for 
whom such trustee is acting; also the statements in 
the two paragraphs show the affiant's full knowledge 
and belief as to Uie circumstances and ctmditions 
under which stockholders and security holders who do 
not appear upon the books of the company as trustees, 
hold stock and securities in a capacity other than 
that of a bona fide owner. 

5. The average number of copies of each issue of 
this publication sold or distributed, through tlie 
wails or otherwise, to paid subscribers during Hie 12 
months preceding the date shovsn above was: (This 
information is rcQulred from daily, weekly, semi- 
weekly, and triweekly newspapers only.) 

HELEN 8TEIN, Secretary 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 19th day 
of September, 1957, 

WILLIAM D. UDDLS 
Notary Public, State of New York. No. 41-2355850, 
QuaUfied In Queens County. Term expires March 30, 
1959. 



130 



INFINITY 



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plus 

ANY 2 BEST-SELIERS 



» 



WITH MEMBERSHIP IN THE 



— Continued 
from other side 



Science-Fiction Book Club 




TT’S TRUE! You get “SATEL- 
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TREASURY OF SCIENCE- 
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4 famous novels; a complete play; scores 
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made famous by Orson Welles’ hoax news- 
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OMNIBUS OF SCIENCE-FICTION 

43 classic stories by top authors. Wonders 
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SEND NO MONEY 
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Indicate on coupon your choice of 
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Dept. IN-1, Garden City, N. Y. 






THE ASTOUNDING 
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DRAGON IN THE SEA 
by Frank Herbert 
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BEST SCIENCE-FICTION 
STORIES AND NOVELS: 1956 
Ed. by T. E. Dikty 
14 top-notch short stories and novelettes 
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SCIENCE-FICTION BOOK CLUB 
Dept. IN-1 1 Garden City, N. Y. 

Enroll me as a member, and rush me ray full-length hand- 
somely bound copy of “SATELLITE!" plus the two books indi- 
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Every month send me the t!lub’8 free bulletin, “Things to 
('orae,” so that I may decide whether or not I wish to receive 
the coming monthly selection described therein. For each book 
1 accept. I will pay only $1 plus shipping. I do NOT have to 
take a book every month (only four during each year I am a 
member) — and I may resign at any time after accepting four 
selections. 

SPECIAL NO-RISK GUARANTEE: If not delighted. I may 
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will be rancelled. 

□ Astounding S-F Anthology □ Dragon in the Sea 

□ Best from Fantasy and S-F □ Omnibus of S-F 

□ Best S-F Stories and Novels □ Treasury of S-F Classics 



Name- 



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Address^ 
City— 



. Zone 



. State- 



SAME OFFER TO RESIDENTS OF CANADA: 
Address Sclence-F’lctlon Book Club, 105 Bond Street, 
Toronto 2, Offer good in U. S. A. and Canada only. 








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TAKt THIS AMAimpEST-SfUER 
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^ (shown on the 'other side) ' 



. - ^A/ MQO f WITH MEMbIrSHIP'iN THE , - 

t ^$1“ Scienie-Fiction fook Clul) 

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—See other side for full details